Old Royal Naval College
The Old Royal Naval College grounds have been closed since the start of the lockdown Credit: The Greenwich Wire

The Old Royal Naval College will allow people to walk and cycle through its grounds again from 8 June – but only on weekdays, and only between 8am and 6pm.

People have been banned from walking and cycling through the grounds since the beginning of the coronavirus emergency – a ban which was swiftly followed by Greenwich Council barring access to the adjacent section of riverside path on safety grounds.

The charity that runs the site, the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, has come under criticism on social media for closing the grounds, which have meant cyclists having to use busy Romney Road – where a man was killed two years ago when his bike was hit by a lorry – to get from one side of Greenwich to the other.

Pedestrians in Greenwich town centre have lost out the most from the coronavirus pandemic – they had lost access to Greenwich Park after 7pm, were banned from walking through the college grounds, had lost access to part of the Thames Path, and faced closures of both the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and Cutty Sark Gardens.

853 contacted the charity last week to find out when the path would reopen, and was told that it was “monitoring government advice”. Yesterday, the foundation decided to break the news of the path’s reopening on social media.

“It is not expected the site will be open for the weekends during this time. Our team is preparing the necessary steps to keep the public and our staff safe,” the charity told Twitter.

“We ask the community to work with us to encourage everyone to be respectful of the safety measures we will have in place, so that we are able to continue working towards a full opening of our site. We will be able to provide more details and updates over the coming weeks.”

Yesterday, it emerged that Greenwich Park will open until 9pm from 1 June, which means that pedestrians will have an alternative to Romney Road during the evenings and at weekends.

Earlier this month, Greenwich Council said it wanted to bring forward plans to pedestrianise part of Greenwich town centre as part of a package of proposals to deal with the need to reopen the economy while public transport is still severely restricted. However, it wants Transport for London to pay for this work. Some other councils have pushed forward with plans without waiting for TfL; late last week, Croydon Council announced it was taking action on more roads to make them safer for walkers and cyclists.

A Greenwich Conservative councillor, Matt Clare, is holding an online meeting this evening to discuss Greenwich Council’s plans.

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