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Vandals at the Gate - Open letter to Greenwich Councillors

Following the demolition of the Blackheath Gate Rachel Mawhood decided to send an open letter sent to Greenwich Councillors. It is published below with some minor amendments to the text for clarity and to include links.

She also records: ‘Incidentally, when a member of the Friends of Greenwich Park telephoned the chair of the Friends to complain about the demolition, her de haut en bas response included her opinion that as the Gates were only put up in 1880 they were "not that old" ... With Friends like these in the amenity societies, who needs LOCOG?'

Dear Councillors

Why did councillors not challenge LOCOG's assertion in Paragraph 7.6 on page 58 in the planning board report for the meeting on 26 January 2012, the Blackheath Gate application 11/2396/F and application for Listed Building Consent (Ref: 11/2397/L) that the bricks in the Blackheath Gate stanchions were of ‘poor quality’

‘generally the poor quality of the bricks’

when, as this photograph shows, the bricks were in excellent condition and the pillars built to last? As an aside, I can tell you that the bricks in this stanchion were in far, far, far better condition than the bricks in the rear wall of my own flat in Charlton, probably constructed around the same time.

Did you ever undertake a site visit to ascertain this "poor quality" brick for yourselves? I wonder why you had not by now realised, as we have, that when LOCOG describes something as "poor quality" it is a clear indication that they know that to do what they want they will have to destroy that something. The acid grasslands being a case in point.

‘the proposed relocated piers would be constructed in brick to match those of the remaining historic piers’

Did anyone ask how much the matching bricks would cost? It is usually cheaper to reuse bricks.

‘Due to the majority of the pier bricks not being original’

Did anyone ask what "not being original" meant?

In the planning board report, Greenwich Council planning department/board sets a planning condition, see paragraph 4.2 - applications 11/2396/F and 11/2397/L that

‘05. Demolition work shall be carried out by hand or by tools held in the hand other than power-driven tools.’

Why make that condition, unless it was to preserve as many of the bricks as possible? Did anyone make it clear that "power-driven" included tools run on a charged battery? See the caption to this photograph:

And see the massive power-tool in this photograph, leaning against what is left of the base of one of the stanchions. Note, in that image, the yellow power cord plugged into a socket on the side of the building behind the scaffold.

I understand that the tender estimate for repositioning the Gates was £500,000. Think of what The Royal Parks could have done with half a million quid, if indeed they have that much "to spare" - and redoing the Blackheath Gates would not be anywhere near the top of their list of priorities, I am certain.

Why does the planning board report 11/2604/SD refer to the Blackheath Gates being in an area of Metropolitan Open Land when, in fact, it is Metropolitan Common Land (a much higher, better-protected, designation)?

As the whole of Greenwich Park is a Listed Grade I landscape, how on earth did LOCOG get permission to do this? The Gates are part of the Grade I landscape. Why does it seem that most of you - Greenwich councillors - know virtually nothing about Greenwich's heritage, nothing about the significance of the Park, understand nothing of the importance of the Park to people's sense of place?

Yours sincerely
Mrs Rachel Mawhood

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