A Slightly Worrying Thought…

Folks, I’m beginning to wonder if we haven’t been slightly barking up the wrong tree with the Equestrian Events in the Park in 2012.
A little piece on the back page of the Friends of Greenwich Park newsletter has begun a few alarm bells ringing – that in concentrating all efforts on watching a temporarily big event in four years’ time, we’ve taken our eye off another ball – and one with permanent implications.

A project whose designers openly admit will damage part of the park, change the way it looks AND lose mature trees permanently and irrevocably.

What is this project? The new Sammy Ofer Wing of the National Maritime Museum which we discussed recently. If you recall, they’re going to knock down some Victorian buildings and build a new, unexciting but not particularly offensive wing to house – well – not very much as far as I can tell.

A cafe, shop and a ‘greatest hits’ section for those too lazy to actually visit the museum properly. Admittedly there will be some good new archives, too, but I find the whole project a bit pointless really – something dreamed up because a millionaire gave a load of cash to the museum and, presumably, wanted something named after him instead of spending it on something they really need like staff wages or exhibitions.

All in all, I wasn’t wild about the concept but I wasn’t going to be lying down in front of the bulldozers over it.

What I hadn’t noticed, though, was where they’re going to put the new entrance ramp. Straight through one-third of the longest herbaceous border in London. Yup, folks, that lovely long flower border that runs the entire length of the museum/Queens House part of the park. (see above.)

The Friends’ newsletter also states that it also involves “removal of the boundary fence” – hang on – isn’t the boundary ‘fence’ ancient wall at that point?

Finally, two mature turkey oaks are for the chop. Now, I can’t deny – and I’ve been to look at these trees – that they’re not the most exciting specimens in the park. They’re not truly aged – though any tree that size isn’t exactly young, either. But this gradual erosion of large trees is, IMHO, not a good thing. Architects always include trees in their plans to make it look like their buildings are prettier than they actually are – but they’re always those stupid dwarf varieties that don’t get in the way of anything.

We are losing our large trees – from roads, from borders, from gardens. Surely a Royal Park must be somewhere that grand, majestic specimens can stretch their leaves? Now – these two are on the NMM side of that wall, so I can’t really moan about them (even though, of course, that’s exactly what I’m doing.)

But what the hell is Royal Parks doing, even considering a plan that involves damaging a fabulous, stunning herbaceous border and, possibly an ancient wall (personally I can’t see how you can lose the border and not the wall…)

The Friends’ newsletter says that they went to a presentation where they were told all the marvellous goodies the new wing will bring – and the bad news about the border. They say they are concerned, but they don’t say what they’re going to do (if anything) about this.

Proposals are being put before LBG for planning permission ‘before the end of the year.’ But where are Royal Parks in this? Why aren’t they kicking up one hell of a stink?

Maybe they, too, have been so busy with the Olympics that they haven’t noticed this either. The NMM have realised that now is a good time to bury bad news.

Money talks, it seems, when it comes to destroying Royal Parks.

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