Prestige Tickets sold hospitality packages for a venue which didn’t exist – and they didn’t have planning permission to build it either

Prestige Tickets Ltd has been selling hospitality packages to the equestrian events in Greenwich Park and their specially designed restaurant without having planning permission to build the structure.

Owned by former England rugby player turned sports agent, Mike Burton, and a French company, Soxedo, Prestige Tickets Ltd is the official supplier of  “world-class hospitality packages” for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Their plan is to build a restaurant seating 500 people in Greenwich Park, consisting of two connected by a glass bridge under which competitors will ride.

On March 29th 2010 the Council granted full planning permission for temporary use of the site for the hosting of the equestrian and modern pentathlon events, including the test events in 2011.

In an email Janice Goldsmith, Assistant Policy Officer at Greenwich Council, said: “The temporary structures include a 23,000 seat arena, training areas, stabling, a cross county course, operational site set up and removal compounds, vehicular and pedestrian access areas, operational parking and ancillary structures. Concessions areas and structures were also included.”

However, this response did not give any information regarding the building for the restaurant, so Spectacle politely responded and asked whether a planning application had been submitted for “a proposed two-towered structure seating up to 500 diners” in the area.

Our first email questioning the planning permission was sent on September 27th 2011. On November 30th, many excuses and nearly two months later, we received an email from Ms Goldsmith saying that “the Council has received a planning application for the structure. The application number is 11/2604/SD.”

A quick search on the Council’s website reveals that this application was made on November 2nd, a long time after we first requested the information and a long time after the tickets went on sale.

If the two towers and glass bridge was included in the first planning permission, why would they then have applied for it again?

The planning application made on November 2nd this year can be found on London Borough of Greenwich Planning Pages.

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London community requests FOI to protect Greenwich Park from ‘pruning’

London local campaign group, NoGOE (No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events), has addressed a Freedom of Information Act request to Greenwich Council with a regard to tree 1253 in Greenwich Park.

 

Tree 1253 Not chopped down- just pruned

 

NoGOE discovered that in spite of London 2012 Organizing Committee (LOCOG) promises being made on not cutting down the trees and returning the park to its current condition after the Games are to be broken. Now, they seek to find out “how and why and by whom, and on whose authority, tree 1253 has been cut down.”

Residents fear Greenwich Park, being the oldest Royal Park, as well as listed Grade 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be “wrecked” after the Olympic Games. This is due to 72 trees planned to be further “pruned” to allow a 11-foot clearance for horses, in addition to other serious damage to the plants in the park.

Initially, the LOCOG planning application for Greenwich Park did not included the tree survey, but NoGOE managed to obtain a tree schedule under FOI from Greenwich Council. It clearly shows a handful of trees located alongside the proposed route of the cross-country course, and these are 1254, 1256 and 279. Some of them are ancient and veterans, as NoGOE points out.

The planning application also shows information about the grassland being re-opened as late as in November 2015, which enhances the conflict between  NoGOE and LOCOG even more.

NoGOE members, and among them the FOI request issuer Rachel Mawhood, believe the Olympic Equestrian events in 2012 should not be held at Greenwich Park, as it is not a suitable site for this mega event.

Will Connell, Performance Director of the British Equestrian Team, said: “LOCOG has no intention of cutting down trees or closing the park for a year, and I think that local residents should be proud that such an exciting Olympic sport will be on their doorstep in 2012.”

LOCOG in its planning application for the venue announced:

The entire park will only be closed for a four week period from 6th July to 3rd August in 2012;
The children’s playground and the majority of the flower garden within the park will remain open throughout this four week period with the exception of cross country day;
There are no planned residential road closures, and no trees will be cut down;
After the Games, the park will be returned to the condition in which it was received.

NoGOE fear they cannot trust LOCOG, as one tree has already been cut down with no prior warning.

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Missed Opportunity for Olympic High Tech Legacy

Back in March 2011 The Wellcome Trust made a £1bn offer to transform the Olympic Park into a ‘global hub for research and innovation’.

Yet the offer was rejected by the Olympic Delivery Authority who instead sold the Olympic Village to Qatari Diar and Delancey Estates for £557m, who will develop the site into a neighbourhood of over 2000 homes.

The Wellcome Trust noted on their website that the rejection was a huge disappointment for them, stating:

‘The Wellcome Trust is disappointed that the Government and the Mayor of London did not wish to take our proposals for the Olympic Park further. If our bid had been successful, our holistic vision for the Olympic Park and the legacy would have delivered a world-class centre for technology and innovation and up to 7000 high-quality new jobs, and it would have made a substantial contribution to the regeneration of East London’

The decision to reject the offer was initially founded on the basis that the £1bn bid made by The Wellcome Trust did not meet the amount that has already been invested into the Olympic Park prior to the bid and that their plans for the site would not provide taxpayers with sufficient value for money.

Yet both Saffron Woodcraft and Ian Birrell argue that this is a missed opportunity for an Olympic Legacy. Whilst The Wellcome Trust plan promised to provide 7000 jobs, the provision of social housing and ‘further social infrastructure’, this offer has been turned down in favour of investors who plan to transform most of the site into private housing, putting into question just how beneficial this decision is for the local residents and for taxpayers. Woodcraft and Birrell suggest that the International Olympic Committee’s decision is one based on short term rather than long term benefits. As Birrell argues:

‘…they are focussing on short-term profits by looking to sell the lucrative athlete’s village to the Qatari Royal family in conjunction with a private firm of property developers’.

This is just another decision, others including Greenwich Park and the new Stratford Westfield Shopping Centre, where the International Olympic Committee has put their interests and the interests of their sponsors before those of Londoners. Perhaps, as Birrell puts it:

‘Infrastructure is built to suit the demands of the International Olympic Committee, not the needs of the host city’.

 

 

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Olympic Equestrian Events, is Greenwich Park the right venue?

Computer simulation of the view from the Wolfe statue created by Greenwich Landscape Artists

Computer simulation of the view from the Wolfe statue created by Greenwich Landscape Artists

No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events (NOGOE) is an ongoing campaign for the  2012 Olympic equestrian events to be moved to a more suitable venue.

The members of this community action group are extremely worried about the impact the Games will have on the Park and the local community. Despite the promises made by the  Olympic organisers to repair any damage caused during the Games, the community says the park is too small and features hundred year old trees that will have to be “pruned” to allow riders to pass during the competitions and that, according to the campaigners, will eventually be damaged.

Following a test event that took place last July, Derrick Spurr, Project Manager for the Games, said he was “absolutely confident” that within a few months the park will start to green up again very quickly after the end of the Olympics.

Sue McNeil, NOGOE’s spokeswoman, described the preparations for the test event as “a rape of the park – it’s covered in sand and railings and tractors. One or two trees have had severe pruning. It makes us suspicious of what will happen next year.”

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Hold Olympics 2012 in Athens

Grafitti Athens 2004

Graffiti Athens 2004

The Greek government spent €25 billion on the Olympics. The austerity package they are undergoing will save €30 billion. Their plight therefore seems to be an Olympic Legacy effect. They also have expensive unwanted sports facilities rotting away unused.

The just as debt laden UK government proposes to find £6 billion in cuts in the coming year. The London Olympic 2012 project is costing £9 billion and rising.

I would therefore suggest that the Olympics 2012 are held in Athens and the London project is stopped before they vandalise Greenwich park and rip up the Hackney Marshes. This would allow the Greeks to get some use out of their sports facilities and perhaps earn some money to pay off  some of their debts. Recycling the buildings would also make it a greener low impact Olympics.

By the way the London 2012 organisers have not got insurance to cover the loss of revenue if the Icelandic volcano erupts and disrupts flights. Would you bet against it NOT erupting during the games?

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Greenwich Park, a centre for Equestrian Excellence? Perhaps not.

Just another sunny day in Greenwich Park

‘The message from tonight is loud and clear. This great park is on loan to the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the people of the world.’

Those were the words spoken by the London 2012 organiser Sebastian Coe on the 23rd March 2010 when plans for a new Olympic site were finally approved. Unfortunately, the park in question is Greenwich and to say that makes a few of us slightly irate is a mockery in itself.

Right from the start, the Olympic Committee have been focused on extravagantly splashing the cash whilst seemingly simple solutions to oversee controversial plans have been overlooked. From crushing allotments to de-housing local communities, next on the list is the iconic green area of Greenwich Park.

Home to an abundance of wildlife, 300 year-old trees and not to mention a World Heritage site renowned for its historical and cultural artefacts, what better way to celebrate this institution of London life than to bring in the bricks and mortar. The organisers are relying on the notion of creating a sporting legacy in the area for local support although it seems they failed to highlight the fact that the world of Equestrian sporting is quite out of reach to most they are preaching to.

In a nutshell, how Greenwich park should remain is as an area of tranquil relaxation away from the direct hive of Olympic activity. The park could be the place to take in the city views, enjoy picnics and light banter about who wins and loses, not to mention the fact that there are permanent facilities already available for Equestrian Sporting Events around London. Why should it take millions of pounds, large camera crews and thousands of Olympic-goers to validate the significance of Greenwich Park; anyone fond of London will already hold this area close to their hearts.

Please join us and sign the petition to appeal this decision; there is still time for changes to be made.

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