We are asking everyone, whether in the borough of Waltham Forest or Hackney, to write to their elected representatives demanding action on the broken promises and flawed reinstatement of Leyton Marsh.
Provided are two examples of letters written in the relevant boroughs:
Cllr Peter Barnett
Chair, Planning Committee, LB Waltham Forest
Town Hall, Forest Road, London E17
Cc all LBWF Planning Committee Members: Cllrs J. Gray, R. Berg, K. Bellamy, E. Phillips, E. Vincent, A. Siggers.
Cc for information to Lea Bridge Ward Cllrs A. Akram, M. Ahmad, E. Davies.
Dear Cllr Barnett and Planning Committee Members
Re: Leyton Marsh Olympic Games Temporary Basketball Training Venue
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Application 2011/1560, 8 February 2012.
According to the above decision, the permission that was granted EXPIRED on 15th October 2012, “on or before which the buildings and all associated works should have been removed and the land reinstated to its original condition”. As broadcast on BBC Television News today, the site is still fenced off, the bare earth is still exposed in parts especially the roadways, the land is water-logged, and contractors’ work is continuing with heavy plant and equipment still in use.
On 12th September I and other supporters from Save Leyton Marsh spoke at the meeting of the LBWF Planning Committee to urge, in connection with the discharge of Condition 1 of 2011/1560, that the proposed flawed Reinstatement Plan submitted by the ODA be rejected, and that the ODA be required to identify sustainable and feasible methods of ensuring eventual unfettered public access to Porter’s Field Meadow on Leyton Marsh. However according to the approved Minutes of 12th September Planning Committee, the installation of Option 3 thick-roll turf was approved as a partial discharge of Condition 1, with the details of the sub-base and location of the membrane being delegated to Officers. Other details were required to be submitted and approved before installation of the sub-base and the membrane.
Please would you kindly indicate when and what details were subsequently submitted to the Planning Committee by the Applicant and what was decided.
In the meantime, Save Leyton Marsh supporters have attended, alongside an LBWF Officer, three reinstatement monitoring visits, convened by the ODA and attended also by the LVRPA, NUSSLI (the main contractor) and STRI (the turf sub-contractor). At the last site visit on Friday 6th October, the NUSSLI representative stated that the work could not be completed for a further two weeks. However it was clear from the waterlogged and impacted state of the land that even if contractors’ work finishes by then, the land is unlikely to be fully accessible at that time. More importantly in my opinion, the long-term interests of the land are at stake.
There are multiple issues with the nature of the reinstatement. As shown on the BBC today, the soil has been compacted and is under standing water in places. The contractors are using workers to hand pump the water and to lay some of the turf which, after concerted lobbying efforts by concerned local people, was meant to have been specially grown with a wildflower seed mix based upon the species found in the surrounding area of Leyton Marsh. But the turf was grown by STRI, a sports turf specialist, a choice that I and others challenged in May at a meeting about the Reinstatement Plan called by the Olympic Delivery Authority. On Tuesday 16th October STRI stated that the laid turf contains only one species of grass and one wildflower; the rest of the seeds have not germinated. This will leave the marsh area with a greatly decreased biodiversity even if the turf is able to survive the unsuitable conditions created for plant life by the laying of recycled construction waste as fill, the placement of an unnecessary geo-textile membrane and the driving of heavy vehicles over the topsoil – all of which have occurred.
This situation now calls into question the integrity of the Walthamstow Marshes SSSI, since vast expanses of non-Marsh-native monoculture grass have been laid on Porter’s Field, much original soil has been removed from the site, and new topsoil imported from elsewhere.
When I spoke to the Planning Committee on 12th September to urge the rejection of the flawed Reinstatement Plan I stated that the Committee did not have the full information needed to determine the discharging of Condition 1: I referred to the lack of an Environment Impact Assessment prior to their decision on the original application 2011/1560, in spite of there having been publicly-available data on the nature and extent of the contaminated land on which the structure was proposed to be built. I referred to the subsequent unplanned appalling damage done to the land as a result of excess excavation needed to locate a surface suitable for the construction of a three-storey-high building and tarmac roadways. Planning Committee members had also received letters from Save Leyton Marsh dated 21st May and 13th June warning about increasing environmental concerns at Porter’s Field.
This project as planned was totally unfeasible as a ‘temporary’ structure. The date of reinstatement to original condition was never going to work.
I urge the Committee to commission a full Environment Impact Assessment of the land as it is now. Mayor Jules Pipe of LB Hackney has already called for this.
I urge the Committee also to seek an urgent review of how this appalling assault was allowed to happen to this designated Metropolitan Open Land. The applicant (ODA) and the landowner (LVRPA) should be required to enter into full public discussion about the long term interests of the land, and made to rectify the damage that has been done, restoring the land to its true original condition, however long it takes.
Dear Mayor Pipe,
As a Hackney resident and regular user of the marsh, I wrote to you a few months ago to express my concern about the environmental impact of the construction of the basketball facility, including the potential hazards to health and safety created by the excavation of this Metropolitan Open Land. I read your reply and the one you gave to Claire Weiss of the Save Leyton Marsh group. Thank you for having taken an interest in this very important issue and I hope that you are able to support our local community in seeing the marshland properly reinstated.
Unfortunately, I am writing to you at this time with a sense of great disappointment since the promised reinstatement of Leyton Marsh to ‘its original condition’ is completely contradicted by the reality at the site.
Firstly, the area used for the basketball court has not been returned to public use on 15th October, the date repeatedly promised by the ODA, the LVRPA and Waltham Forest Council. Fences still remain around the vast majority of the site and the condition of the ground inside the enclosure is very poor.
There are multiple issues with the nature of the reinstatement. The soil has been compacted and is water logged. The contractors are using unskillled workers to hand pump the water and to lay some of the turf which, after concerted lobbying efforts by concerned locals, was meant to specially grown with a wildflower seed mix based upon the species found in the surrounding area of Leyton Marsh. Members of the Save Leyton Marsh group questioned the choice of a sports turf specialist, STRI, for conducting the growing and laying of turf on such an ecologically sensitive area. Yesterday STRI admitted that the turf contains only one species of grass and one wildflower; the rest of the seeds have not germinated, which will leave the marsh area with a much decreased biodiversity even if the turf is able to survive the unsuitable conditions created for plant life by the laying of recycled construction waste as fill; the placement of an unnecessary geo-textile membrane and the driving of heavy vehicles over the topsoil.
As someone who is involved at the highest levels with creating positive legacy from the Olympics Games, I hope that you will be able to contact the relevant people at Waltham Forest to enquire about the progress of the reinstatement plan and how the work will be monitored; and also regarding the next steps, including to make sure a risk assessment is conducted after October, as you suggested to Claire Weiss.
I have just been to a surgery with Cllr Ahmed and am disappointed to learn that all he has done to further our extremely important cause is write one letter to the Legal Dept of Waltham Forest that he has only just thought about chasing up because we gave him a nudge at his surgery today. It’s not just LBWF that need harassing. It’s the Olympic Delivery Agency and Lea Valley Regional Authority too
As you both know, there was a show of strength of about ten people from our group at the last Community Ward meeting at Lea Bridge Library and yet despite this Cllr Ahmed has just admitted to me that he has not been to Porter’s Field to have a look at the utter devastation or even looked at our website.
You were all given leaflets at the meeting, have you looked at this yet? http://saveleytonmarsh.wordpress.com/
Have you physically been to the site of the Basketball courts which are now ENORMOUS taking up 2/3 of the field?
Cllr Ahmed is unable to attend a very important meeting of the Marsh Users Forum to be held at the Ice Rink this Wednesday 23rd 6.30pm-8.30pm. As a ward with three councillors I would expect that at least ONE of you could attend. Or preferably all three. We would ask that you back us on this local campaign that’s in YOUR area for which you get paid to represent.
I know that local resident and campaigner Claire Weiss has been to see Cllr Ahmed twice at his surgery and once at the Community Ward meeting and YET STILL NOT ONE OF YOU HAS SHOWN A GLIMMER OF INTEREST. Leyton Marsh is under threat. It is a vital piece of open green space for your constituents. It’s your job to actually care about this.
The Councillors from Hackney have been attending meetings that are held every Monday evening (see website for venue as it moves around) and the meeting that was held by the ODA last week at Riverside Nursery at which the Lea Valley representative refused to speak to us as a group!!!
Can we expect your support at the meeting at the Ice Rink this Wednesday?
Here’s a practical way to exercise you democratic rights. Write to your MP. In order to find out who your local MP is you just need to to enter your post code in this link. Then all you need to do is write them a letter explaining your concerns. Here is a sample letter that you could use as a template.
House of Commons
SW1A 0AA Date
Re: Leyton Marsh
I am writing to express my deep concern at the decision of the Olympic Delivery Authority to build a temporary basketball training arena on Leyton Marsh. This area of green space isx Metropolitan Open Land and is protected from development for everyone to enjoy and by placing the facility here the ODA and Lea Valley Regional Park Authority are depriving many thousands of local people from using this amenity throughout the summer.
I am worried that the decision of Waltham Forest Council to grant planning consent to the ODA will undermine the protection this green belt land currently enjoys making it easier for developers to build on the marshes in the future.
I am also aware that the training facility does not provide any legacy benefit for the area and does not meet planning restrictions. I am not against the building of a basketball facility in the area but believe the ODA could have easily used an alternative and existing site such as Kelmscott Leisure Centre which would have provided much improved facilities for local residents and left a real lasting legacy for Leyton and the surrounding area.
I understand that the building works have also uncovered high levels of contaminated land and want to know what the ODA and other authorities involved are planning to do to make sure this does not pollute the surrounding marshlands.
For many people living in cramped conditions, without a garden the marshes provide the closest access to outside green space and I would like to know what you can do to ensure the decisions leading to this development are properly scrutinised? I would also like solid assurances that the issues relating to pollution and contamination will be suitably dealt with and that the land will be returned to full and free public access immediately after the Olympic Games come to a close.
I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your assistance