Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The finest baroque landscape in England

A recent sunny Sunday afternoon in the Park (see picture). Yet, from March 2012, here where you can now see people enjoying the fresh air and green grass in an open space near where they live, this area will be a construction site for the temporary stadium for the equestrian Olympics, and closed to the public for 7 months right through the summer until October.

Will the magnificent herbaceous border be dug up? Who knows but it seems more than likely that the paths running east to west will be closed to the public, depriving thousands of people each day of their delightful "commute" on foot across the Park. Every morning commuters on their way from Maze Hill and Vanbrugh Hill have a pleasant walk to the DLR and Greenwich mainline stations; while, in the opposite direction, the buggy brigade head from West Greenwich towards the playground and leisure centre. The alternative for these mothers and their babies and toddler is to walk along the 2 metre-wide pavement in Romney Road, breathing in the polluted air alongside this busy arterial road used by large lorries as well as cars, where the traffic is often at a standstill.

During the day this part of the Park attracts tourists, walkers, joggers, elderly folk relaxing on the dedicated benches, and a continuous stream of toddlers in push chairs and kids on bikes. From late afternoon the area is filled with school children returning home, students playing football and teenagers just hanging out. Did I mention school trips and school sports days?

It’s socially unjust to close this part of the Park for such a lengthy period. These users of the Park might have been "public-spirited" to endure this misery if there were no alternative. But there are venues that are much more suitable for the Olympic equestrian events than Greenwich Park. SD

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