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Circus Field - Cuckoo comes early to Greenwich

Unsurprisingly Locog's planning application for its activities in Greenwich Park was passed by Greenwich's Planning Committee. Three of the nine members of the Committee, including the Leader of the Council, failed to turn up. It is questionable whether it and other Olympic Borough Planning Committees still deserve that name so corrupted has the local planning system been by the progress of the juggernaut.

The exact nature of the 'deal' between the ODA, Locog, the LDA, the Queen and The Crown Estates and its legality remain uncertain. Rachel Mawhood has continued to unearth further compromising details. I use the term 'details' advisedly as it is plain this is how the authorities like to dismiss these issues which in other circumstances they would use to block projects they disapproved of.

Ms Mawhood points out that the Circus Field, while Crown Land, is not a part of the Crown Estates. So by what right did the Crown Estates sign a lease with LODALowcog for a piece of land which is not its to lease out? Furthermore, no planning application was submitted for the Circus Field to describe its uses by Locog and no Environmental Assessment has been done. Crown land is not exempt from the need for planning permission.

Ms Mawhood has already pointed out that Circus Field is not just common land but Metropolitan Common Land which is not covered by the manoeuvering designed to overcome the bar on enclosing the Field. It is also a Site of Nature Conservation of Metropolitan Importance. Does any of this make any difference to those charged with protecting such sites and ensuring that planning rules and laws are upheld? Arguments also continue over the exact capacity of Greenwich Park. Does it LODAGreenwich hell?

In fact, as Mrs Mawhood has noted, on 19th October 2011 told the Greenwich Council Licensing Committee it did not intend to use the Circus Field. However, by 19th December the leases had been signed with the Crown Estates. So when did this alleged change of heart occur and how long did these negotiations last?

After NOGOE's Rachel Mawhood uncovered this backroom deal Locog decided to feed a snippet of information to Jacquelin Magnay's Torygraph blog, not that Ms Magnay credited Ms Mawhood with putting the matter in the public domain.

Ms Magnay informed us that Locog needs the Queen's little piece of heath for 'an operations and contractor compound, training grounds and stabling of horses, workforce facilities, parking and pedestrian access facilities.' Sounds like a lot of different uses for one piece of land. Item 6 page 21 in the document submitted to the Planning Committee is rather more specific and refers to the Circus Field as ‘a holding area for Town Centre vehicles’.

Today Locog demolished the Blackheath Gate to Greenwich Park to allow access by heavy lorries, an action sanctioned by the 'Friends' of Greenwich Park and other local amenity societies. Nogoe2012 continues to report further damage to trees in the park. Originally 72 were to be 'pruned'. At the last count this had grown, excuse the inaccurate pun, to 291.

Nogoe report that one local councillor said "LOCOG is not the golden goose we thought it was". They should have spotted it was a cuckoo.

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