London Borough of Waltham Forest is preparing a new local plan

A local plan is a plan for the future development of the local area, drawn up by the Local Planning Authority. It guides decisions on whether or not planning applications can be granted. It is, in other words, the thing that the Council and developers refer to when deciding what to build and where to built it in Waltham Forest. Nipping bad ideas in the bud before they become part of the local plan will mean we have fewer battles against individual planning applications in the future. Well, that’s the theory anyway!
The Council has put their ‘direction of travel’ for the new local plan out to consultation and I’m urging you to have a look and to respond. The details of the proposal can be found here:
Comments should be send to by 22 December 2017.
We’ll try to have a look at it and post our observations in the next week or so, but please do have a look yourselves if you get the chance. The image above shows the four sites being considered for development in the Lea Bridge area – three of them currently green space.
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Wetlands Licence

Whilst we look forward to the upcoming opening of the Wetlands, we are disappointed to hear that the application for an extensive entertainment licence has been granted there and we expect the London Wildlife Trust to put wildlife before human pleasure and to protect bats and birds on this protected RAMSAR site.

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Help Crowd Fund Legal Case to Stop Waterworks Sell Off

Text below from the Crowd Justice page, by Abigail Woodman, on behalf of SLM.

The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) is planning to sell the Waterworks Centre and surrounding open green space for development. This is wrong, and I am asking for your help to fund a court case to stop them.

What are we hoping to achieve?

The marshes of the lower Lea Valley are a beautiful, amazing, unique open green space, a place for people to reconnect with nature and let their imaginations run wild right in the heart of the city. We want to make sure the marshes are there for future generations to enjoy. To do this, we must protect them from development. If the Lee Valley Regional Park is allowed to sell this patch of green open space, where will they stop?

I have spent the last five and a half years encouraging the LVRPA to recognise that they manage the Lee Valley Regional Park on our behalf, and asking them to respect our vision for our green open spaces. Again and again, the LVRPA have demonstrated that they are more interested in building an empire of large leisure venues than looking after our green lung. Now they are planning to sacrifice precious Metropolitan Open Land to pay for an ice rink that should be self-financing if it is a viable proposition. This is not acceptable, and I want to send a message to the LVRPA and others who want to develop Metropolitan Open Land: We will stand up for what we believe in. We will not tolerate attempts to rob us of our green open spaces. We will fight to protect them.

What are we planning?

With the help of Leigh Day, we are planning legal action to prevent the LVRPA from selling or developing the Waterworks Centre and surrounding land.

At the moment, we are waiting for the LVRPA to make its next move and we will need to be ready to act quickly when they do. We are therefore asking, at this stage, for your help to raise £1750. This will enable us to explore the viability of a case and pay court fees. If the case proceeds, we will need to raise additional money.

The Waterworks Centre and surrounding land provide a buffer to protect the Waterworks Nature Reserve, and the birds and animals that call it home, from noise and light pollution:

The Waterworks Centre provides facilities that enable people to enjoy green open space in one of the most densely populated cities in the world:

Save Lea Marshes enjoying a picnic on part of the site designated for development by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority:

The Lower Lea Valley, with the land under threat highlighted:

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Community Picnic 20th August

Join us for a picnic!
Save Lea Marshes is organising a picnic on Sunday 20 August, from midday, on the open green space in front of the entrance to the Waterworks Centre.
Leave your barbecue at home and bring food, drink and a picnic blanket, and help us celebrate our wonderful open green spaces.
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A Victory Followed By Worrying Developments

We are pleased that the decision to refuse the car wash has been upheld and what’s more on grounds which uphold the legal protections for Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). However, running contrary to the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to safeguard MOL, the very next day we discovered that the Lee Valley Park Authority had written to local residents informing them it was pressing ahead with plans to replace the current ice centre with a new double-pad facility through disposal of treasured local space.

A letter sent to Essex Wharf and Riverside Close residents stated that they are ‘planning a new centre, which will cater for increased public demand and provide a regional centre of excellence’ on the site of the current facility. This, they claim, will be funded by ‘looking to redevelop 3.5 acres of under-utilised land that has previously been built on at the nearby WaterWorks Centre’. The idea that the 3.5 acres of land is ‘previously built on’ is misleading, since the majority of it is still green space, even if car parking and a community centre have been been built there. Furthermore when the WaterWorks Centre was constructed, in order to obtain consent under the restrictions in force for developing MOL, this would have been on the understanding this development would provide community facilities to maintain and serve the public green space. Not facilities that would later be ‘disposed’ of for private residential purposes.

Letter sent to local residents

If these facilities have since become ‘under-utilised’ as the LVRPA claim, then they are solely responsible as the sole managers of this venue and surrounding area. The Park Authority should be looking to supplement the revenue they have, around £15m, with funding bids if the new Ice Centre will indeed be commercially successful as they claim. Public protected land should not be disposed of to subsidise the building of any new commercial facility.

However this is far from being a foregone conclusion for several reasons. Firstly, an admirable group of local residents had the foresight to register the WaterWorks Centre as an Asset of Community Value. This means it will be harder for the LVRPA to sell the Centre, as the community will first be offered the opportunity to bid for it. The sale has to be delayed for a period of time to give one or more local groups time to put a bid together. We do believe that having an ACV status is a material planning consideration so it should be taken into account at the planning stage, whatever the nature of the ‘disposal’ process.

Secondly, in response to many local objections to the plans for the Waterworks and our petition of over 5000 signatures, the Council have amended the provisional wording of the Lea Bridge Eastside Vision document regrading the Waterworks from ‘Residential’ to ‘Possible Regeneration Opportunity’. This is in contrast to the definite and concrete plans for other parts of the Lea Bridge area.

The LVRPA have acted swiftly and it could be said secretively to ensure that there is minimal accountability for the plans. If you visit the website you are directed to in their letter to residents, you will discover that a private company has been contracted to deal with public communications. After several Lower Lee Valley Commitee meetings have been postponed, rescheduled, moved or cancelled, the Lower and Upper Lea Valley Committees have been rolled into one body called the “regeneration and planning” committee which means that there will no longer be specific local meetings dealing with local matters even when there are so many current issues and proposed developments in this area.  The assumption that the only issues of interest are to do with regeneration and planning is ridiculous and maybe an attempt to deliberately shut down opposition from the Lower Lee Valley Committee members who are regularly lobbied by local residents and groups.

This means the likelihood of acrimonious relationships between the LVRPA and local people and local groups will be far greater, since there are no intervening democratic bodies to lobby or to represent our views to the Executive, who are now solely responsible for the disposal of assets, rather than all Authority Members as was previously the case. The LVRPA know that their plans to sell off public land are the most controversial and legally tenuous of all their undertakings and it would appear that they have undertaken bureaucratic measures to officially distance themselves from those they are meant to serve.

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Car Wash: Appeal Dismissed by Planning Inspectorate

The cordoned off car wash at Leyton Marshes car park, on Lea Bridge Road.




The appeal lodged by the car wash business that operated on Leyton Marshes car park, in front of the Lee Valley Ice Centre,  has been refused by the Planning Inspectorate. Waltham Forest Council refused planning permission for the Morina Car Wash business back in November 2016 and it appealed the decision in April this year.

The grounds given for dismissing the appeal related to the status of the land and the impact on local residents. The two main reasons cited were as follows:

  1. The effect of the development on the openness, and the character and
    appearance of the Metropolitan Open Land and surrounding area; and
  2. The effect of the development on the living conditions of nearby occupiers,
    with regard to noise and disturbance.

These were two of the main reasons that Save Lea Marshes presented in our long-running opposition to the facility on protected open land. The Planning Inspector’s report cited the need to protect the appearance of the land as the ‘lack of built structures on the land immediately surrounding the appeal site allows clear views of the canopy from across the car park, the road, and the surrounding buildings.’ It is good to know that the relevant authorities are concerned with safeguarding the MOL status of this land, including its appearance and integrity.

The key passage regarding the impact of the car wash is as follows: ‘The core of the designation of the land as MOL is to prevent harm to openness.The appellant states that the land is already developed. However, the appeal development results in new structures being erected on an otherwise flat area currently used as a car park. Despite the presence of lighting poles with advertising affixed throughout the car park, and the nearby Ice Centre building, the site, the car park and the bordering green land, does currently have an
open character. Development, by its very nature, reduces openness. The development would result in new structures being erected, which although lightweight in nature and appearance, would reduce this openness.’

Whilst the structures are referred to in the future tense, they have in fact already been erected and we will do our best to make sure that they are removed as soon as possible by Council enforcement so that the views of the green land are as fully restored as possible, despite the presence of the Ice Centre itself.

Another notable aspect of the refusal to grant permission is also found in the grounds for dismissal, namely the impact on nearby residents. The report states: ‘Due to the open nature of the land, it is likely that any loud activities emanating from the car wash would be heard by residents. Such activities normally associated with hand car wash businesses could include pressure washers, pumps, vehicle movements and noise from workers.’

The fact the planning authorities have cited the impact of the business on Essex Wharf residents and seen fit to prevent development to maintain the openness of MOL will be useful in opposing future developments on adjacent or nearby MOL. The two free schools that are proposed for the former Thames Water Depot site opposite and the plans for high rise residential buildings for the Waterworks will both have far reaching detrimental impacts both on the openness and integrity of the MOL and on local residents.

We hope that consistency is maintained in regards to both small and large inappropriate developments alike.

We would like to thank everyone that originally objected to the car wash being located in such an inappropriate area. We hope that the business will be able to find a more suitable location which does not compromise the local environment.

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Amended Lea Valley Eastside Vision waved through by Cabinet

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…

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