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14 September 2011 – Consultation about The Royal Parks

14 September 2011 – Consultation about The Royal Parks – The London Assembly Environment Committee would like to hear what you think should be the priorities for The Royal Parks and how they can meet the needs of local people.

E-mail environmentcommittee@london.gov.uk, or telephone 020 7983 4510, or write to: London Assembly Environment Committee, PP10, FREEPOST LON 15799, city Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2BR. This will be discussed at a public meeting on 12 October 2011.…

14 October 2011 – Shooters Hill

14 October 2011 – Shooters Hill

14 October 2011 – Shooters Hill – NOGOE is about Saving Greenwich Park so is not actually involved with the huge tide of grassroots opposition to Greenwich Council’s highly controversial application (11/1765/F) to itself for permission to develop Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) at 341 Shooters Hill but,

as the local bloggers are determined to think we are, this is by way of a contribution to the debate.

The scope for using Metropolitan Open Land for development is highly restricted.

The presumption is against any use except in very exceptional circumstances.

Building a riding school for the local community on it – when (a) there are already three other riding schools in the Borough and (b) there is land available for use on the Greenwich Peninsula which would not result in the people of the Borough losing valuable green open space – is not exceptional enough to justify what is proposed. 

So far, the Council has failed to explain how it would balance the harm caused by the development against the supposed benefit.

Handing Hadlow College a £1.6 million equestrian facility to run could be in breach of EU law on competitive tendering, and giving them this role is not a “very special circumstance”: if a standalone application to develop the enhanced facilities for use by Hadlow College had been made, it would have been refused on MOL grounds.

The proposed development amounts to a seven-fold increase in the buildings “footprint” on this site, much larger than what is built on the site at present (“a building used as a day centre for adults with learning difficulties”).

That alone is grounds for refusal of the application because of a High Court/Court of Appeal decision that overturned planning consent because the development was larger than what was there before:

R (on the application of Heath and Hampstead Society) v Camden London Borough Council [2007] EWHC 977 (Admin)

upheld by the Court of Appeal

The Queen on the application of Heath & Hampstead Society and Alex & Thalis Vlachos and London Borough of Camden [2008] EWCA Civ 193.

So, all the circumstances considered, Greenwich Council is exposing itself to an application for judicial review.

It is worth pointing out also that the Leader of the Council is a member of the Greenwich Council planning board and that he has again. and wholly improperly, pre-empted the planning board decision –

just as he did with the original proposal to use Greenwich Park as the 2012 venue – here he is quoted in Horse & Hound, 23 August 2011: “Cllr Chris Roberts, leader of Greenwich Council, said: ‘This will introduce thousands of London children to the thrill of horse riding and provide future educational opportunities.'”…

18 October 2011

18 October 2011

18 October 2011 – Will LOCOG tell us tomorrow if they have sold too many tickets to the 2012 equestrian events?

Although the area of Greenwich Park overall is 183 acres, much less than 183 acres is actually available to use during the Olympics, what with everything else that LOCOG has tried to squeeze into it: a 23,000-seat stadium,

stabling for 300 horses, training areas, horse ambulances, hospitality marquees, pantechnicons of the world’s media, tv rostrum cameras, portaloos for thousands of people,

access kept clear for emergency vehicles, etc, etc, and ensure a safety margin is kept clear of spectators along both sides of the cross-country track.

Earlier this month, LOCOG was saying that it was going to ask Greenwich Council if it could sell more tickets for the 2012 equestrian event (LOCOG says they have already sold 50,000). 

Reuters reported that the maximum capacity for the cross-country event is 75,000. It isn’t. 

The maximimum number that Greenwich Park can safely accommodate at any one time is 17,500 … or maybe 24,999.

Or far, far fewer than that.

The Greenwich Council Licensing Committee meets tomorrow Wednesday evening 19 October 2011 to consider LOCOG’s Premises License Application (reference WK/2011/10519).

Among other things, we may learn what really is the maximum number of people that can safely be accommodated in Greenwich Park.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, Greenwich Council placed the responsibility for calculating the safe capacity of the Park firmly on LOCOG.

What will it be? The spectrum of possibilities is crazy.

  • 2006: 17,500 or 19,999 (at the time of the only other entertainment licence)
  • 2011: 23,000 (LOCOG’s Travel Advice for Business Area: Greenwich)
  • 2011: 24,999 (according to the Westcombe Society which assumes that all normal exits will be open, which will not be the case in 2012)
  • 2011: 65,000 (LOCOG’s operating statement)
  • 2011: 690,000 (figure stated on LOCOG’s premises licensing application form) – incidentally, this is equivalent to the population of Memphis, Tennessee, USA.

Perhaps the last figure is meant to be 69,000 (65,000 members of the public and 4,000 staff etc) but that is still a terrifying figure,

when you remember that there will be only two exits – through three layers of security fencing, past jumps and stores and massive world media pantechnicons (with their fuel tanks).

Some Greenwich residents are already assessing the fire risk.

The Royal Parks licensing application of 2006 did not include alcohol. LOCOG’s application does.

Does LOCOG’s “crowd modelling” (if any) feature the idiot who, having been forced to arrive at 7.00am, has been drinking since 10.00am and then fancies a crafty fag behind the haybales …

in the tinder-dry Park (in the event that there is little rain during the weeks prior to the Olympics) with all LOCOG’s generators, fuel tanks, catering ovens, electrical cabling, combustible material – and full of 25,000 or 69,000 people who will then scramble to get out,

as the fire brigade tenders are trying to get in.

Once a fire starts, there may be only a few minutes – less than 10 – to evacuate everyone to safety;

and LOCOG is not going to be able to stage any fire drills beforehand with 50,000 real people to practise on.

The VIPs – royalty, diplomats, the IOC, IEF, BEF, friends of Boris and Seb – will be alright: the security services must save them, no matter what.

Who will be saved next, do you think – the competitors’ million-pound horses, or the punters and kitchen staff? Hmmmn.

21 October 2011

21 October 2011

21 October 2011Still waiting for decisions made by Licensing Committee (19 October 2011) to be put into the public domain

The most astonishing moment of the first part of the meeting, held in public, was when LOCOG – the Applicant for this new Premises Licence – was asked to clarify how many people can safely be accommodated in Greenwich Park at any one time,

  • LOCOG’s venue manager for Greenwich Park, Jeremy Edwards (with 12 years experience of organising international and Olympic events) remained silent;
  • LOCOG’s solicitor, Mr Phipps, told the Licensing Committee to “ask the fire brigade”.

So there you have it. No other applicant for a premises licence would get any further, if they (the applicant) had no idea how many could be safely accommodated within the venue that was the subject of the licence application.

But, clearly, LOCOG feels that they can bring 69,000 people into Greenwich Park without having to assume first the responsibility for demonstrating what the safe capacity of the Park is.…

22 October 2011

22 October 2011

22 October 2011 – Tree 660 – a mature Fraxinus Excelsior “Diversifolia” a cultivar of the European Ash

In 2010, LOCOG said that they would have to “prune” only 72 trees. In 2011, LOCOG said they must “prune” a further 219 trees “for access”.

The Labour councillors on the benighted Planning Board gave them permission to do so; so, instead of “prune back low peripheral limbs by 1.5m on southern aspect” (February 2010 tree schedule, and 1.5m is less than shoulder-height on a man),

LOCOG has cut 13 limbs altogether (8 of them large) off this mature Fraxinus Excelsior “Diversifolia”. At the top of this page, you can see what LOCOG means by “prune”.

This type of tree can live for 250 years but, thanks to LOCOG, this one is unlikely to do so. All for the same of ONE DAY’s cross-country event.…

25 October 2011

25 October 2011

25 October 2011 – Greenwich Council Licensing Committee grant licence to Applicant who does not know what the maximum safe capacity of Greenwich Park is

You couldn’t make it up, and now you don’t have to.

To recap: in 2006, the maximum number of people to be in the Park at any one time, under a premises licence granted to The Royal Parks for showing films (no alcohol to be sold), was 19,999.

In 2012, there will be much less standing room in the Park than there was in 2006 or since (in normal times), because of all the Olympic stuff: stadium, stabling for 200-300 horses, broadcasting compound, loos, cabling, jumps, hospitality tents etc etc.

Seems obvious, then, that the maximum safe number during the Olympics will be less than 19,999.

In reply to a Freedom of Information request (RFI/03626, submitted in early October 2011), Greenwich Council said that “It is therefore the responsibility of the organiser of the event, LOCOG, to calculate how many people can be safely accommodated in Greenwich Park on cross country day “.

Yet when, during that part of the Licensing Committee of 19 October 2011 that was held in public, LOCOG representatives were asked to clarify what the maximum safe capacity of the Park is, LOCOG’s venue manager, Jeremy Edwards, remained silent.

Sitting next to Jeremy Edwards was LOCOG’s solicitor, Mr Phipps, who told the Licensing Committee to “Ask the Fire Brigade”.

So at the time of the hearing of their licensing application, LOCOG had not calculated how many people can be safely accommodated in Greenwich Park on cross-country day.

As there is no sign of the Council “asking the Fire Brigade”, either, we have done so, as a Freedom of Information request.…

15 November 2011 – C*ck-up, conspiracy or karma? You decide

15 November 2011 – C*ck-up, conspiracy or karma? You decide – Compare and contrast (our highlighting). From the Royal Parks own 2010 Guidelines for Event Organisers:

And, from Section 2 of LOCOG’s Transport Plan, part of their current application to Greenwich Council for discharge of conditions (11/2604/SD).

Who is going to tell the Prime Minister? “The good news, sir, is that we have thrown away only £60 million. The bad news is that NOGOE were right all along …”…

Nogoe Index

Nogoe Index

Nogoe Index – 26 January 2012 – “LOCOG is not the golden goose we thought it was” (said by one of the local councillors, speaking as a resident)

LOCOG fielded no less than 15 of their people for this meeting of the Greenwich Council planning board.

(The planning board itself comprises 9 local councillors, of which three – including the Leader of the Council – were absent from this meeting.)

Once again, all but two members of the planning board showed themselves to be utterly unequal to their responsibility towards and insensible to the privilege of serving the people of Greenwich.

They voted to give LOCOG the planning consents it sought, although no one is any nearer knowing what the maximum safe capacity of Greenwich Park is during the Olympics.

Another jaw-dropping development, though, concerns Circus Field. It has pleased LOCOG always to draw Circus Field on its maps as part of the “footprint” of Greenwich Park.

But Circus Field is not in the Crown Estate.

Circus Field is Crown land, which has not been exempt from planning law for many years, even if the “Crown body” organising the planning application happens to be the Crown Estate.

That means that ODA/LOCOG should have submitted an application to the Council that included detail of what they wanted to use Circus Field for, with plans;

and an Environmental Impact Assessment is not optional. Even when the “development site” is not a Site of Nature Conservation of Metropolitan Importance. Which Circus Field is.

Greenwich Council had a statutory duty to tell ODA/LOCOG that if they wanted to use Circus Field for the purposes of the Olympics, they must go through the statutory planning consultation process.

But, instead, the Council stood by while the ODA/LOCOG and Crown Estates between them organised a secret lease and under lease of Circus Field.

LOCOG will not disclose to anyone how much was paid for the lease and under-lease, or whether or not the lease included a promise to sell back and at the price paid.

(Ie when will the lease – as distinct from the under-lease – expire, and is the ODA going to make a profit out of this sale and resale of the lease of Metropolitan Common Land?)

LOCOG also refuses to let Greenwich Council legal department have copies of the lease and under-lease for their own records, even though the ODA (which has no money of its own,

everything it does is with taxpayers’ money, and the taxpayer underwrites the risk of everything that LOCOG does) and the Council are both public authorities.

Circus Field is also Metropolitan Common Land, and Greenwich Council has a statutory duty to prevent any part of Circus Field being enclosed.

ODA/LOCOG claim that the Olympics Act 2006 and the Localism Act 2011 give them the power to use Circus Field for the purposes of the Olympics.

But in the phrase “commons, open spaces and allotments” (used in both the Localism Act 2011 and the Olympics Act 2006), Metropolitan Common Land cannot be an implied term/category.

The ODA/LOCOG and the Crown Estates have misapplied the law and acted ultra vires.

The planning board decision of last Thursday is meaningless: Greenwich Council is NOT released from its statutory duty to prevent any part of Circus Field being enclosed.

The lease from Crown Estates is void and irrelevant because Circus Field is not in the Crown Estates.

Metropolitan Common Land is not implied in the Localism Act 2011 and the Olympics Act 2006…

Resources NOGOE documentation

Resources NOGOE documentation

Resources NOGOE documentation – 22 October 2009, LOCOG on the rack press release”Results of a survey of Greenwich residents carried out by London Assembly member, Gareth Bacon, showed that 68% of respondents were opposed to the Equestrian Olympics in Greenwich Park (see Daily Telegraph, 20/10/09).

A similar pattern was observed by NOGOE in their collection of protest signatures outside the Park gates.

An analysis of a sample of 13,000 protesters’ addresses showed that 80% were from SE1-SE28 and Bromley and Beckenham postcodes, ie many Southeast Londoners don’t want these events in Greenwich Park – proving that opposition is NOT down to nimby-ism.

10 September 2009, Brief for Treasury and for Shadow Ministers, September 2009: Cost savings available by moving equestrian events in 2012 Olympics from Greenwich ParkIllustration of the potential cost savings to be made by moving the 2012 equestrian events to a site where there are already some existing facilities and where a positive legacy could be created: totalling around £50 million, including both financial and social costs.

9 December 2009, Daily Telegraph, London Editor.”Parts of Greenwich park will be closed to the public for five and a half years as part of controversial works to stage Olympic horseriding events, it has emerged.

The planning application, published yesterday, shows that closure of parts of the park will begin in “spring 2010,” in around five months’ time, and the grassland will not be fully restored and reopened until “November 2015.”

“4 December 2009, greenwich.co.uk, open letter to MP Nick Raynsford”Dear Nick, NOGOE very much regrets your uncritical cheer leading for LOCOG (most recently displayed in your interview with www.greenwich.co.uk).

As a constituency MP, we feel that you should respect, even if you don’t always agree with, the genuinely held views of all your constituents.

I am therefore writing this open letter to you, which the blog site has agreed to publish.”

10 November 2009, Docklands24 “Park protestors take signatures to Downing Street””Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson have both received boxes containing 13,000 signatures against the Olympic Games in Greenwich Park.”

21 October 2009, greenwich.co.uk & (20 October 2009) Daily Telegraph”HIGHLY-controversial plans to hold the Olympic horse events in Greenwich Park are opposed by almost 70 per cent of local residents, the first full-scale survey has found.

The survey, by the London Assembly, is a serious blow to the Olympic organisers”

20 October 2009, Daily Telegraph” When my three Californian nieces came to London last summer, where did I take them for a grand day out?

To Greenwich Park, of course, a place which is so steeped in history – as an important royal palace since the 14th century, birthplace of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Mary I – that even jaded Old Worlders must bow down in wonderment.

From the vantage point of the Royal Observatory, one can spy a glistening ensemble of white neoclassical buildings – Inigo Jones’s seminal Queen’s House and Christopher Wren’s magnificent Old Naval College – all held in the sylvan embrace of Greenwich Park, with the sparkling Thames flowing behind.

But now there are concerns that the fabric and integrity of Greenwich Park is threatened by plans to use it for the equestrian and pentathlon events in the 2012 London Olympics.”

2 October 2009, “Piloti” column, Private Eye”As the Olympic Games approach and the cost of this gratuitous nightmare for London rises, the mayor, to his credit, has said that: ‘Too much attention is being paid to the will of international sports federations and not enough to the people of London'”

6 October 2009, Evening Standard”Coe is on record as saying that the Games will deliver ‘a profit’. Perhaps his salary should come out of it.

Any student of the Olympic Games knows that there is never a legacy. As Sydney and Athens showed, the Olympics never lead to a tourism surge.

In 2012 Stratford, given its location, will be half empty and many London hotels unfilled.

All London has is a ‘legacy czar’, imported from Pennsylvania at the exorbitant fee of £200,000 a year.

His remit from the Government is, hilariously, ‘to dampen expectation’.…

Campaign News

Campaign News

Campaign News – 5 April – Works in the Park: LOCOG’s helpline number

Lord Coe has recently written to 7,000 Greenwich residents who live close to the Park.

The letter states that works in the Park will take place from Monday to Friday (between 8am and 6pm) and on Saturdays (from 9am to 5pm).

It also contains a helpline number for anyone seeking further information.

Unfortunately the number given was incorrect. So LOCOG have asked us to let you know that residents wishing to contact them should call:

08000 722110
And not 0800 722 1100 as stated in the letter.

5 April – Phase 2 has begun


LOCOG’s Phase 2 began on 2 April.

The Queen’s Lawn has been enclosed and is scheduled to remain closed until the end of November.

The lawns between the Queen’s Lawn and the Avenue are also affected because the paths across them have all been closed.

The only way to get across the northern end of the Park is to use the path along the foot of the Observatory hill or the path beside the National Maritime Museum.

Details of Phase 2 can be seen here. For the latest developments see our photo diary.…

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