Greenwich Park Movement Strategy

The Greenwich Society has responded to the consultation on the Royal Parks' Movement Strategy

Royal Parks Movement Strategy Consultation: Greenwich Park

The Society has reviewed the Royal Parks Movement Strategy and the supporting analysis applicable to Greenwich Park.  We commend the report, which has proved particularly timely, and would like to endorse the 7 "Strategic Outcomes", outlined below.

  1. No loss of green space and protection of the park environment
  2. Develop a visitor dispersal and signage plan for each park and developing a strategy for visitor dispersal 
  3. Provide safe and enjoyable walking experiences for park visitors
  4. Reduce speed throughout our parks
  5. Promote considerate cycling behaviour
  6. Reduce the amount of through traffic within our parks
  7. Minimise the movement of operational vehicles within the parks

The Society has looked at specific points raised by our members covering cycling and pedestrian use, through traffic, better signage, better visitor dispersal with provision of exercise points for runners and footpath lighting within the Park.

Cycling: views on this were mixed, and mostly favoured pedestrian use for walking, exercising, families with children and the many dog walkers. There is a real risk that they get intermingled and too close to each other. This is particularly so for elderly, partially sighted and disabled users of the Park for daily exercise.

It is not an issue on the main road through the park except for speeding or close encounters with cars. There is some conflict on paths shared with pedestrians, e.g. the path from the upper Maze Hill gate which should be monitored. We support the Westcombe Society’s view on this.

Through traffic: There is an intention to reduce this but the traffic situation in the area is complex with surrounding roads and movement between East and West Greenwich difficult. A change in traffic flows could have a major impact on East Greenwich and Westcombe Park. Given the long established pattern of opening to through traffic early morning and late afternoon Monday-Friday any change could have a significant negative impact on traffic flows elsewhere in the areas around the Park; Crooms Hill and Maze Hill being two clear cases in point.

Local consultation on this is vital because of the interlinks with proposals from Royal Borough of Greenwich for the Greenwich Town Centre and the so called “Hills and Vales” traffic proposals for West Greenwich. All the local amenities societies, including the Greenwich Society, would expect to be involved in the consultation.

Visitor dispersal / Better signage is needed in the park, not just maps at the gates. People tend to only find the top few attractions. The analysis of Greenwich Park visitors indicates that over 70% arrive by walking or some form of public transport, probably associated with a visit to Royal Museums Greenwich. Many local residents walk to the Park daily for exercise, family gatherings, dog walking or quiet contemplation. This is very important as the population grows and the nature of the housing in Greenwich and Lewisham Boroughs is rapidly changing to apartment blocks and high rise developments, especially on the Peninsula.

The majority of visitors, who are tourists or not local residents, simply walk up the hill to the Wolfe Statue and visit the Royal Observatory for the Meridian Line, and then walk down again. This is promoted by signage from the NMM as it forms part of RMG.

Greenwich is a total visitor experience with its many attractions. Can we suggest that Royal Parks develop a joint campaign including Royal Museums Greenwich and the Old Royal Naval College, Royal Borough of Greenwich and local organisations and businesses to promote the Park more generally in any future signage and wayfinding?  One example, maps of the Park could be at the Museum’s information desks, cafes and shops. Other ideas are:

  • Better signage at the gates; perhaps in different languages too and use of a QR code to scan to a smart phone.
  • A Guide and walking map that could be downloaded online before arriving
  • A Royal Parks Visitor App could be developed and used to give an indication of what else there is for them to enjoy including the flower garden, avenues of trees, the Rangers House, the cricket fields and tennis courts. It could also include a guide on access to Blackheath and the Village.
  • More references to the World Heritage Site and the history of the Park as the oldest Royal Park in London. A children’s history trail map is one example

These could lead to visitors moving to other less frequented parts of the Park and enjoying the overall experience much more.

Given the Park’s association with the London Marathon it has become very popular with runners and exercise groups. It could be helpful to designate some exercise areas, especially in the quieter corners of the park. These could have exercise equipment or facilities and be sponsored by London Marathon or similar organisations. There are many examples of such facilities in local parks and schools that would be sufficiently robust to be outdoors. It would also fit in with the "visitor dispersal" objectives. Here’s an example of such equipment from a supplier www.sunshinegym.co.uk/parks-local-authorities/

Lighting: The Park has no lighting at night because of its proximity to the Royal Observatory and the impact of light pollution. Being a walled Park, it is able to be closed in the evening. However, as it is often dark before closing time there may be a case for very limited low level lighting of perhaps some solar powered or ground level fibre optic lighting along the path by the herbaceous border. However, the Society would prefer to maintain the current situation of no lighting in the Park.

The Society is very keen to continue the consultation process with Royal Parks as it is such a fundamental part of our community and sits at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Lesley Hodsdon, Chair

29th March 2020