The Royal Parks has begun work to improve the layout of the Blackheath Gate entrance to Greenwich Park.
The project will see Blackheath Gate, which forms part of the historic vista that runs from the Sir Christopher Wren designed maritime buildings through to all Saints Church on Blackheath, removed and rebuilt in a wider, semi circular design and set further back from its current position. At the moment it is difficult to turn in and out of the park, and there have been several accidents at the junction on Charlton way. The current design also means the gate posts are frequently damaged by vehicles.
The initial phase of the work will began on Monday 6 February and lasts until Monday 2nd April 2012. To enable the work to be done a temporary one way system will be put in place meaning traffic will only be able to enter the park through Blackheath Gate and exit through St Mary's Gate.
Motorists are advised to find an alternative route and to allow extra time for their journeys due to the potential impact on traffic in the area. Visitors who enter through Blackheath Gate and park their car are advised they will only be able to exit through St Mary's Gate.
The project, which is approved by English Heritage, has been carefully planned to ensure the new gate and layout incorporate many of the elements of the original, both in their design and in the materials used. For example all of the original Portland stone cornice and plinths are being salvaged, repaired and reused.
The Blackheath Gate works do not affect the Park boundary wall and only the brick piers to the gates are being replaced. The brick piers to the gates date from 1885 but only one of these is original brickwork and all the others are later 20th century repairs. Bricks from the one original pier are being salvaged for future repairs to matching brickwork at St. Mary's Gate. As the bricks used in the 20th century repairs were poorly matched to the originals they will not be salvaged.
Graham Dear, The Royal Parks manager of Greenwich Park, said:
"The work we are undertaking will make improvements to the layout of the junction and have been needed for some time, and although some disruption will be caused the end result will mean improvements for all users of the park. The current gates date from a time when the only traffic was pedestrian, cyclists and horse. They do not meet the needs for today's vehicular traffic. The gates are not wide enough and they are regularly damaged. There have been many accidents involving cyclists. The new design will make the junction safer.
"The new design approved by English Heritage and Greenwich Borough Council is sympathetic to the feel of the park and the wonderful vista through the park that they help frame. An archaeologist is present throughout the demolition and ground-works for the project and we will also be trying to reuse as much of the current materials used in the gates as part of the construction.
"We are sorry for any inconvenience the work may cause and thank you for your understanding and patience whilst we make these improvements."
The work was subject to a public consultation which concluded on 17 January 2012 and granted planning permission by Greenwich Council on 26 January 2012. The final phase of the work will be completed in early 2013.
Computer generated images of how the finished gates will look are here. (click on image for larger image)
For further information or images please contact:
The Royal Parks Press Office on 0300 061 2128 or email firstname.lastname@example.org