These are extracts from a speech given to the Authority AGM concerning the new car wash, which has started operating without planning permission:
We are extremely concerned that the Leisure Trust is becoming a vehicle for uncontrolled and inappropriate commercial developments, of which the unsightly car wash that has sprung up on Lea Bridge Road is a highly visible example.
It doesn’t just look awful, smell awful, encourage car use and further degrade this part of the Park. It has been introduced without regard to legal constraints or the democratic processes of the Authority:
Firstly, in providing a car wash service on Lea Bridge Road on its own land inside the car park for the ice centre the Authority is acting outside its powers as set out in section 12 of the Park Act – to operate the park as a place for the “occupation of leisure, recreation, sport, games or amusements and similar activities… the provision of nature reserves and provision and enjoyment of entertainments of any kind”.
A carwash can’t reasonably be argued to fall within this purpose, but Section 13 goes further to specifically state “nothing in this section shall empower the Authority—
(b) To carry on the business of maintaining or repairing motor vehicles.”.
In offering a car washing and valeting service, the Authority is clearly carrying on the business of maintaining motor vehicles
The car wash has been constructed and opened without regard to the terms of the lease of the Ice Centre premises entered into by Leisure Trust. The Lease section 8.4 states that no operation or change of use on the premises may be carried out until all necessary permissions under the Planning Acts have been obtained and the Landlord has acknowledged that every necessary planning permission is acceptable to it.
Nevertheless construction has been completed and operations commenced without planning permission being obtained.
The car wash is not a ‘complementary service to customers’ as Chief Executive Shaun Dawson has asserted. Anyone can use the car wash without even visiting the ice centre, and the prominent signage on Lea Bridge Road aims to directly attract people from outside the venue.
Shaun Dawson has stated that ‘it is widely acknowledged that the most effective deterrent to car crime (theft, vandalism etc) is maintaining a physical presence in the car park and a car valeting operation is the most cost effective way of achieving this.’ We have never been made aware that vehicle theft and vandalism have taken place on site. Presumably most crimes of this nature will actually take place during the night, when the car wash will be shut. Therefore this appears to be a spurious argument.
The planning application for the car wash is misleading and inaccurate. For example by claiming there is no trade effluent, though waste water from commercial car washing is classified as such and requires permission from Thames Water to discharge to sewers – which does not seem to have been applied for or obtained. The planning application also states that the facility is not on contaminated land and it is not close to a water course. Both these claims are wrong. The car wash is situated on Leyton Marshes which have been used for historical landfill and the site is in close proximity to the Lea navigation. It says the canopy will be green, in reality it’s blue, and omits the water supply cabinets and signage installed.
The facility as constructed deviates from the tender specification which says, “The Tenant may erect a temporary canopy and use moveable equipment. Under no circumstances is the Tenant permitted anything of a permanent nature.”
The Tenant must “not make any structural changes” and not “change or alter in any way the service pipes, electrical cables or conduits in the car park” You can see from these images of the car wash that the structure is not moveable and is secured with reinforced concrete mounting blocks set into the ground with steel water pump cabinets, and associated wiring and plumbing.
Most importantly, it is not an appropriate structure on Metropolitan Open Land, as it does not support any recreational use of the surrounding MOL. We seek your reassurance that inappropriate facilities will not be allowed on MOL and there will be no contravention of the Park Act.