After June’s public inquiry, we were recently contacted by the Planning Inspector regarding the result. North Marsh pavilion and car park have been granted permission whilst East Marsh car park, retained without approval after the Olympics, has been refused permission, see here: COM 603 & COM 604 Hackney Marshes
We are happy that the correct decision has been reached regarding the unlawfully retained car park at East Marsh and therefore expect Hackney Council to remove it immediately. Although we are disappointed that the pavilion will now be built on what is presently green space, we understand that the inspector did take our views into account, acknowledging that the development would have a negative impact on informal users of the marshes. She was no doubt prompted in her decision by the urgency to provide suitable facilities for the sports clubs which had been left lacking by Hackney Council. This decision will result in another large car park on the marshes so we sincerely hope that this will be the last car park constructed on our common land.
Any future Council plans should involve everyone in a proper consultation to avoid unnecessary expense and community division between marsh users.a
Personal responses to decision
It’s been a few weeks since we received the Planning Inspector’s Decision about the North Marsh Pavilion and the East Marsh car park, and I am still thinking about it.
Like all of us who worked so hard to put together the case against the applications, I am very sad that one tree will definitely be felled on North Marsh, that other trees may die and that where now there is grass there may soon be an ugly building, and I’m pleased that the car park will be removed from East Marsh. Yet I don’t seem to be as disheartened by the decision as others, and I have been considering why. Perhaps it is because I am, mostly, a glass-half empty person and if you expect the worst then you are pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than you hoped for. Yet that isn’t the whole story.
As the inquiry due to a close my hunch was that we would win on East Marsh and lose on North Marsh, so the decision was pretty much what I was expecting. And we did win. Let’s not forget that. We didn’t win on all counts, but we did win. Hackney Council do need to remove the car park from East Marsh. Our hard work will help turn a little bit of concrete back into green space and, in my book, that’s worth celebrating. It isn’t a rip roaring 24-hour party kind of a celebration, but it’s a raised glass in acknowledgement of a hard-won achievement kind of a celebration. I was so proud to stand alongside everyone else who made the case against the application at the inquiry. We are all very different kinds of people, with different skills and different ways of going about things and – against all the odds – we managed to get organised, stay focused and work together to present a case that was complimented by the opposition and by the inspector herself contrary – I suspect – to expectations. That’s another reason I feel some kind of hope. We’ve done this once and we did ok. Next time we’ll be able to put our new-found expertise to work and our case will be even stronger. And if Hackney Council, Waltham Forest Council or the Lea Valley Regional Park want to see that as some kind of threat, then perhaps it may well be just that!