URGENT: PLEASE Object to Planning Inspectorate About Hackney Council’s Plans

Hackney Council has to get consent from the Planning Inspectorate to build its new car parks and pavilion on the Common Land of Hackney Marsh. It’s vital to get as many objections in as possible by 12 September. So we are putting an urgent appeal out to all our supporters to please email this by the 12th. It won’t take long but may help save precious green space.

A high level of public concern and controversy may lead to a lot of difficult questions being asked of the Council and hopefully a public enquiry.

We are including points against both East Marsh Car Park and the North Marsh Pavilion – these are both in the one application so should go on the same email.

We are asking people to send emails to: commonlandcasework@pins.gsi.gov.uk .

Subject: Hackney Marsh consultation response

Dear Planning Inspectorate,

I am objecting to the granting of consent for the current proposals by the London Borough of Hackney for works on Hackney Marsh Common Land.

[I am a local user of Hackney Marsh.]

[Optionally add what's most important to you here about loss of green space/lack of benefits/harm etc.]

I agree with following points:

 

East Marsh car park

  1. It will result in no benefit to the Common or advantage to the majority of its users, who either live locally or do not have or choose not to use cars.
  2. There are good transport connections locally for visitors from outside the neighbourhood and no justification for encouraging additional unnecessary car use. The Transport Statement is out of date, and ignores post-Olympic connections to the major transport interchange at Stratford East.
  3. Environmental impacts from encouragement of car access onto the common include: air pollution; risk of illegal vehicle access and fly-tipping
  4. There are no residential roads nearby so not providing this will not cause any parking pressure impact on neighbours.
  5. It will mean a permanent and continuous loss of a natural area of the Common with a negative effect on all users, while only being used for very limited periods (Sunday mornings) and a very small number of drivers.
  6. There is no general need for additional parking on Hackney Marsh as demonstrated by the emptiness of the existing car parks at any time other than Sunday mornings.
  7. The applicants say that the car park is “designed to meet the needs of the Borough’s residents, as well as any other visitors, who wish to use the marsh for education or recreational purposes”. This would appear to be untrue as they have previously stated that it would be available only for paying customers using the pitches.
  8. An additional > 3000m2 of East Marsh has already recently been lost to superfluous hard surfacing through unconsented works. This is more than the former parking area. Many hectares of green Common have been recently covered with paving, roads and buildings at Arena Fields, White Hart Field and Morris Field in the southern parts of Hackney Marsh. The effects of this proposal will add to this progressive erosion.
  9. It is incorrect for the applicants to describe it as a ‘reinstatement'; it is a new generic car park in a new location; the former parking surrounded changing rooms which no longer exist.
  10. A great deal of underused parking space exists in the vicinity. A large multistorey car park has been built on Hackney Marsh Common approximately 7 minutes’ walk away; surely footballers are capable of walking this distance. New and little-used car parks have been built at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre only 100m from the proposal site. Hundreds of parking spaces remain empty during the daytime at New Spitalfields Market directly adjacent to the site.
  11. The claim that the proposal will ‘prevent cars being parked on the grass around the pitches’ makes no sense as this never happens, driving onto the Common is illegal, and access for vehicles is physically prevented by posts and railings.
  12. Additional cycle parking could be achieved in a low-impact way in various locations around the Common and would not require this large area of paving.
  13. No demand for disabled parking in this location has been proven – ample provision exists at the Hackney Marsh Centre, close to its facilities.
  14. The heavy-duty block paved surface is excessive, obtrusive and completely inappropriate for minimal traffic for a few hours a week; no lower-impact alternatives have been considered.​

North Marsh Pavilion and associated car parking

Pavilion / Changing rooms

  1. It will incur an unjustified loss of an additional presently open, green and accessible area of Common.
  2. The proposed pavilion location will cause harm to the landscape by its elongated design and prominent position​​ . It will block current views east across the marsh and be a dominant artificial feature in the entire northern area of the marsh.​
  3. Planning approval and commons consent was obtained in 2008/9 for 20 new changing rooms plus officials’ changing and other facilities on the site of the existing building, without extending out onto new green space. All considerations led that to be considered the optimum location. This continues to be the only acceptable option in the interests of the environment and neighbourhood.
  4. The applicants now claim that using the site of the current building is not practical as the current building must be retained until the new one is in use to provide continuity of facilities, and providing temporary changing facilities would cost money. Such minor cost considerations cannot justify such a major loss of open green space and impact on the Common. Furthermore this was never raised as an issue when the 2008 plans were approved.
  5. Avoiding loss of Common Land and damage to its utility should be the first priority in this sensitive location, yet the primary consideration now seems to be the provision of a large parking and vehicle zone entirely consuming the current site.

    Car parking

  6. Access is over a steeply humped bridge with poor visibility and across a footpath heavily used by runners, cyclists and people with dogs, who should be able to use the Common without risk from traffic.
  7. It is undesirable and unnecessary to have a drop-off area within the Common as part of the proposal – visitors without mobility problems can be dropped off in Millfields Road and have a short walk over the bridge to the changing rooms.
  8. Environmental impacts from encouragement of car access onto the Common include: air pollution, risk of illegal vehicle access and fly-tipping, as well as risk of collision with pedestrians, dogs and cyclists.
  9. The provision of the parking and vehicle circulation area appears to be the reason for the design ‘solution’ of placing the new building out on new green space.
  10. It will result in no benefit to the Common or advantage to the majority of its users, who either live locally or do not have or choose not to use cars.
  11. While a former car-parking area existed on what is now the cricket show pitch, this became inaccessible over 10 years ago, and prior to that was rarely utilised. It is misleading for the applicants to claim that there is a net reduction in parking provision by reference to this.
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Hackney Council Apply To Build Huge Car Park on Hackney Marshes

For a Council that prides itself on being a premier cycling borough and not providing car parks in its leisure and entertainment areas, the London Borough of Hackney (LBH) has proven itself strangely determined to put cars on our marshes. The Council is presently applying to the Planning Inspectorate for approval for plans for not just one but two car parks – reinstating the East Marsh Car Park (that wonderful legacy of the Olympics which it has already constructed without consent) rather than restoring it to green as originally planned.  SLM campaigned vociferously against this unlawful construction and now an application is being slipped in with the North Marsh Sports Pavilion and its extended car park.  This week’s “Hackney Gazette” carries the ‘story’ of the pavilion, told by Cabinet Member Jonathan McShane to Shekha Vyas on page 2.

To view the new combined planning permission application for development of Hackney Marshes, go here To sign the petition against these plans, go here

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

You will see the application for planning permission involves the demolition of the existing North Marsh Pavilion building and the erection of a single-storey building to provide changing rooms and associated facilities, provision of cricket nets, associated car parking and landscaping and the “reinstatement” (sic) of a car park on East Marsh. But from reading the application, the following vital information about loss of present green space on our marshes is excluded:

  • CONSENT: Save Lea Marshes don’t support this application, we have been clear throughout the process that we only support vital plans to improve sporting provision entailed in constructing the original building planned, which had two additional changing rooms for the cricket and football teams and was located on the footprint of the present facility. This plan received permission in 2009 from the Planning Inspectorate. The delays in providing the sports teams with adequate facilities since then have been down to Hackney Council alone, redrawing their plans at public expense, to increase car parking. The present plan entails a huge new car park and construction on green space adjacent to the iconic poplars. We are not mentioned in the Council’s planning application, which suggests there is no organised local opposition to the present plans.

 

  • MONEY: the Council is now claiming the reason they can’t build on existing footprint is that they would have to provide a replacement during the construction process and they don’t have the money to do so. This is the very first time they have used this argument, previously they argued that the original plans had to be ditched due to the location of a water main. SLM publicly proved this to be false, as was reported in the Hackney Gazette newspaper. It is problematic to trust the Council’s arguments when they are continually making new unverified claims, then shifting the goalposts once these claims are exposed. The Council have already spent £17m on ‘marshes improvements’ which have mainly involved the vast increase of hard-surfacing on the marshes. Presumably this figure also involves the £750,000 they spent on the Radio 1 Weekender which ruined the pitches for a whole season and required serious remedial works. It is the Council who are responsible for wasting vital funds that could have been spent on sporting provision for the whole community.

 

  • PRIVATE INTEREST: The Council have used public funds to hire FirstPlan, a private consultancy firm who work on contentious applications, to assist them with pushing through the plans for a private astro-turf pitch on Mabley Green and now with this application. When not assisting Hackney Council at our expense, Firstplan have also been lobbying on behalf of private developers to relax the Metropolitan Open Land rules in the next revision of the London Plan. Hackney Marshes is Metropolitan Open Land.

 

  • CARS: The basis of this proposal is bringing more cars on to the marshes – this is the real reason they cannot consider alternatives. It is patently against their much lauded transport policy about reduction of car use in the borough, which they use to justify higher parking fares. The choice is between having the facility with a limited size car park and having a facility with a large car park. The Council however, are presenting the alternatives as being between a huge car park out on presently green space or a huge car park occupying the whole existing changing room site and more. Having a large car park will make the marshes even more vulnerable to flytipping, will increase pollution and decrease safety for marshes visitors due to traffic hazard.

 

  • FUNDERS: the Council claim the funding is dependent on this particular facility being constructed as a one-storey building, entailing construction on green space. However, as we’ve said before, and was verified by local cricket groups, 2 storey cricket pavilions are standard. When we contacted the ECB, they said the specification for a one-storey building was not a condition of funding and that they were happy to work with the community on a beneficial design.

 

  • CONsultation: The nature of the consultation is crucial in understanding the claims Hackney Council is making about the popularity of their plans. They ran a misleading consultation that did not allow respondents to clearly be able to understand a range of proposals and their respective pros and cons. Since the questionnaire did not include a question about where respondents lived and/or worked, it is not possible to distinguish the responses of locals from the responses of outsiders. The survey did not separate out general agreement with the need for the facility with the specific details planned for the construction. The majority of the positive responses to the proposed application were from people who travel to the Marshes by car (and are therefore probably outsiders), while the majority of the negative responses are from people who do not travel by car (and are therefore probably locals).Moreover, this survey needs further scrutiny. Our group have been told that we are not able to access information about the IP addresses from which the survey was completed, this suggests that the Council have manipulated the survey. From the very uneven pattern of responses to the questionnaire it is clear that no attempt was made to obtain a truly representative sample of Hackney Marsh users.

Under no circumstances should there be further incursions on to presently green space of the marshes. This is not what local people consider to be an ‘improvement’. They value our green spaces because they are green open spaces in a built up environment!

For those that wish to object, we will publish a pro forma objection letter in the next few days. Yes to sporting facilities, no to more car parks on our marshes!

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30 Days of Delightful Poetic Musings

30 days cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written over 30 consecutive days in April 2013 for National Poetry Writing Month, local author XYZ has produced an enchanting series of ponderings on space and time composed whilst walking through the marshes.

The poetry in this compilation reflects the euphoria of witnessing the natural exuberance of the first stirrings of spring. What makes it unique is the way it weaves into these sensations a mystical contemplation of the scientific fact underlying each beautiful sighting.

Some of the poems trace their imaginings back from familiar marsh sightings – swans on the river Lea, night trains through Walthamstow Marshes, common garden birds, honey bees and majestic comorants. An example is this favourite of mine which is an evocative reflection on witnessing a comorant emerge from our polluted river:

Comorant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other poems are more abstract in nature, exploring the mysteries of time, black holes and mind bending aspects of cosmology.

Poems such as Kepler 62-F and Higgs Boson artfully express some personal grief that lurks beneath each contemplation of the rational world, just like the bird underneath the water.

Each poem has been originally illustrated via digital manipulation of vintage paper ephemera to delightful effect. Whilst absorbing yourself in the depth and beauty of the imagery in this pocket book of poetry, you can also expand your scientific knowledge through the comprehensive notes that accompany the text and explain the concepts behind each poem.

This compilation will stimulate the mind and senses of any marsh lover who is enraptured by the inner workings of nature that we see all around us, particularly those who muse over the scientific wonder of the everyday.

30 Days is available from our website Shop page, priced £10.

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet is just coming into abundant bloom all over the remaining non-mown section of Walthamstow Marshes. This priceless medicinal plant, the original source for aspirin and a good remedy for headaches when taken as tea, can also be added to homemade wines, beers, vinegars, jams and custards. It received its name from being used to flavour to meade.

Meadowsweet vinegar is easy to make and makes a pleasing gift to save for Christmas time. To make meadowsweet vinegar, simply steep the flowers and leaves of the plant in vinegar for a couple of days; put in a dark place, removing occasionally to shake. If insufficiently strong for your liking after two days, remove the original plant material, and repeat the process using fresh supplies of meadowsweet and the vinegar that the first batch was steeped in.

Meadowsweet

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…Dog Rose

Dog rose

Dog rose

There is an array of pretty pink dog roses and white field roses all over the marshes right now to appreciate, and forage if you wish to. Remember when picking roses to pick the petals only, that way you leave the pollen for the bees! Rose petals are used in many Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines to make sweet, floral preserves and vibrant garnishes.

You can make rose petal jam, candied rose petals, rose cupcakes and even rose petal custard!

However, my personal favourite is rose-infused honey which as well as being delicious, looks great and makes a fabulous gift. The bonus is that it’s easy to make too!

How to Make Rose Petal-Infused Honey

What You Need

Ingredients

Basic formula: Use about 1-2 tablespoons of dried petals per 1 cup (8 ounces) of honey.

Honey: A light, mild flavored honey generally works best. (If you can find a local source of honey, all the better as this helps support your local bees and beekeepers.)

Petals: You can use just the petals or use them in combination with other herbs. Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile and pine needles all make lovely infused honeys. You can also use spices like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Herbs should be dry; see instructions below.

Equipment
Clean, dry jars and lids (half-pint and pint mason jars work well)
Chopstick, wooden spoon handle, or other stirrer (avoid metal, which can scratch jars)
Clean cloth for wiping jar rims
Strainer

Instructions

1. Prepare petals: The buds or petals should be dry and if you are combining with herbs, may be in the form of whole sprigs or separated leaves. Chopped herbs may infuse more quickly, but they may also be harder to strain out. (To dry fresh herbs, use an air or oven drying method, dehydrator, ormicrowave.)

2. Combine herbs and honey: Place petals in the bottom of a jar and fill the jar almost to the top with honey. Using a chopstick or other implement, stir to coat the herbs with honey. Top off with more honey to fill the jar. Wipe the jar rim with a clean cloth and cover tightly.

Tip: Label the jar with the contents and date so you don’t forget!

3. Infuse: Let the petals infuse for at least 5 days. If the petals float to the top, turn the jar over a few times to keep them well coated. For a more intense flavor, infuse for another week or longer.

4. Strain: Strain the honey into a clean jar. Depending on the volume of honey and petals and the size of the strainer, you may need to do this in stages. (Tip: Use the leftover petals to make a tisane.)

5. Store: Store the honey in a tightly covered jar in a cool, dry place. It will last indefinitely.

Recipe reproduced from http://www.thekitchn.com

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…

Bladder senna

You can use the leaves in a tea as a laxative.

1/4 teaspoon senna leaves

8 ounces of boiled water

Leave for about 10 minutes

Bladder Senna is not as strong as Senna
Bladder senna

Bladder senna

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…Elderflower which is in plentiful abundance all over the marshes right now.

elderflower

The elder tree in the past was known as ‘the poor man’s pharmacy’ due to its abundance and renowned medicinal properties. Whilst the leaves,bark and stems are poisonous and should not be eaten, both the flowers which appear in early summer and the berries, which appear in early autumn, are full of goodness. Today you can buy expensive and delicious elderflower drinks, but did you know that you can make your own?

So here is a tried and tested internet recipe for Elderflower Cordial which we recommend:

You may want to start off checking out: Top Tips for Making Elderflower Cordial

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Steeping of flowers: 48 hours

Total Time: 48 hours, 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1k /2 ¼ lbs sugar
  • 1.5 litres / 6 cups boiling water
  • 4 medium lemons, washed
  • 30 large Elderflower heads, shake to remove any insects
  • 55g / 2 oz citric acid (available from a chemist)

Preparation:

  • Place the sugar into a large saucepan/stockpot or a large Pyrex bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until all the sugar has dissolved and leave to cool.
  • Grate the rind of the lemons with a fine grater, add to the sugar water.
  • Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the water. Add the citric acid and stir, then finally add the flower heads to the water and stir again.
  • Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 48 hours.
  • Strain through clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.
  • Using a funnel, fill sterilized bottles (see note below). Seal and store in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator) for a few weeks or freeze in plastic bottles to keep for longer (see note below).

The cordial is delicious diluted with still or fizzy water or used as a flavouring in ice creams, fruit fools and many, many other recipes using Elderflower Cordial. 

Once a bottle is opened store in the refrigerator.

Note To sterilize the bottles , rinse in the dishwasher, or place in a medium hot oven (300°F/150°C) until the bottles are warmed through but not red-hot.

If you want your Elderflower Cordial to last longer than a few weeks you will need to preserve the cordial by sterilising in a water bath. Not as difficult as it sounds and you can see the method in Top Tips for Making Elderflower Cordial

 

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