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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Olympics in Bushy and Richmond Parks

It was announced last week that the cycling road races on the first two days of the Olympics, 28th July for the 145 men and 29th July for the 67 women, will go through Richmond Park from Roehampton Gate to Richmond Gate, and then through Bushy Park from Teddington Gate to Lion Gate at Hampton Court, then on to Box Hill and return to London via Richmond Park again, entering at Kingston Gate and exiting at Roehampton Gate. The Road Race is approximately 250km (156 miles) for the men’s race and 140 km (87 miles) for the women’s race. The competitors all start together and the first past the line is the winner.

The Royal Parks and The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will meet with the Chairmen of the Friends of Bushy and Richmond Parks in the near future in order to discuss plans in more detail. Following this a programme of engagement with the local community will be agreed to ensure that residents, local businesses and civic and amenity groups like the Friends are informed about the event. It will be a free to view event, so the parks will remain open to the public and spectators will not need to purchase tickets to view the event in the parks. The event will only last as long as it takes the athletes to cycle through the park – a couple of minutes or so on the way out, probably much longer on the way back through Richmond Park since the race will be strung out by then.

First, care needs to be taken with the deer. The organisers have been told about the deer herds, and they will be factored into the detailed event planning. Our deer could become world television stars! The plans need to be designed to minimise risk to riders and to deer. The routes for the road race will undergo a detailed survey, in consultation with the international cycling federation.

Second, we understand that there are to be no venue structures installed in either Bushy or Richmond Park, although it is likely that the routes through the two parks will be fully barricaded, heavily marshalled and will feature designated and controlled pedestrian crossings. We need to be sure that there will be no spectator stands or giant TV screens etc. in the parks.

Third, for both parks, but for Richmond Park in particular, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve, we need to be convinced of the arrangements for protecting the acid grassland, ancient trees and wildlife from the large cyclist and media support and the very large crowds of spectators. Chestnut Sunday in Bushy Park can attract 10,000 people on a good year, so the number of visitors for the Olympic cycling could treble or even quadruple that.

Finally, due to an agreement made in 2004, the Royal Parks will not be paid for the use of the land, but will be compensated for any extra expense caused by the races. The Royal Parks quite rightly make a charge for professional photography and filming in the parks. The Olympics should be no different and should be charged for holding the event, as is any other group or sports organiser. This is particularly the case when government funding for the Royal Parks is being cut by almost 40%. We think that there should be some payment or legacy for the two parks from an Olympics organisation that is generating large amounts of money through its events such as the cycling.

There will be a test event of the route in August 2011.

Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Friday, 25th Jan 8:00 pm

Talk by Ian Jones-Healy “Dr John Langdon Down and the history of Normansfield“.

Latest report

On the morning of Saturday 3 November a group of members of the Friends assisted Sharon Evans, the Bushy Park Head Gardener, in planting an area of the Woodland Gardens.

Full report...