The Cabinet at the London Borough of Waltham Forest have waved through the amended Lea Valley Eastside Vision.
Although there are some things to celebrate about the amended plan, there are still serious problems with it.
Waltham Forest should be congratulated on changing the designation of the Waterworks Centre and surrounding land from ‘Residential led’ to ‘Possible regeneration opportunity’. And they should be congratulated for limiting the land under threat. This is a laudable direction of travel and is a strong indication that the Council knows, in its heart, that it is wrong to build on the marshes.
But of course it’s disappointing to see that the Council wasn’t brave enough to go further, to listen to the overwhelming opposition to the LVRPA’s plans to build on the marshes and to keep the area as green open space. Because that’s exactly what it is. The site in question is 1.62 hectares. 1.13 hectares is green space; that’s a whopping 70% of the site. Only 0.09 hectares, a tiny 5.5% of the site, is covered by a building (see Google image below). Given that the GLA says that, ‘Development on Metropolitan Open Land should be resisted with only appropriate uses or redevelopment of existing built footprints allowed’, it seems strange that the Council hasn’t recognised that developing just 0.09 hectares for housing is unfeasible.
In my opinion, it would be far better if the Council responded to the wishes of local people than pandered to the wishes of the LVRPA, which seems far more interested in feathering its own nest with elephantine sporting venues than it does with protecting London’s green lung – the very task it was created to do.
While it may be true to argue that we need housing, we do not need housing here. There is plenty of room in the borough for housing to be built without the loss of Metropolitan Open Land. This development is being proposed by the LVRPA because they argue they need the money to develop the Lee Valley Ice Rink, but it is fallacious to think that the borough will lose its ice rink if this land isn’t sacrificed for development. There are other ways the LVRPA could raise money and, perhaps more to the point, could we not site an ice rink on nearby industrial land and protect even more Metropolitan Open Land?
The marshes are intrinsically precious. They are also a valuable resource. Not only do they help combat air pollution, but countless studies have demonstrated how access to good quality green open space has a significant positive impact on health and wellbeing. And local people will continue to oppose, in the strongest possible way, all development on Metropolitan Open Land. This is only the beginning…