Car Wash Appeals Planning Decision: Please Act!

The London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF) refused planning permission for a car wash on Metropolitan Open Land near the Lee Valley Ice Rink. The applicant has appealed the decision and we are asking as many people as possible to write to the Planning Inspectorate to ensure the refusal is upheld.

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

 

The car wash, erected on Metropolitan Open Land, opened in the summer of 2016 without planning permission and without permission from Thames Water to discharge trade effluent into the sewer.

 
Information on how to write to the Planning Inspectorate and the applicant’s statement of case can be found here: Car wash – appellant’s statement of case.  If you don’t have much time, please write and simply say that you support the LBWF’s decision and oppose the appeal. If you have more time, we have provided some guidance below to help you prepare your response.
 
Please write to the planning inspectorate before 18 May 2017. Fending off this planning application on Metropolitan Open Land will help us in the battle ahead to protect other parts of Leyton Marshes from being developed.
 
 
Guidance
 
You can register your comments online: www.planningportal.gov.uk/pcs or alternatively you can email East2@pins.gsi.gov.uk Please make sure you have included your name and address and the following information about the application:
 
  • Reference number: APP/U5930/W/17/3168867
  • Address of the appeal site: Lea Valley Ice Centre, Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, London, E10 7QL
 
Please begin by clearly stating that you are against that appeal proposals.
 
Talking points you may wish to include are as follows:
 
GENERAL OBJECTIONS TO THE APPEAL PROPOSALS
  • The application site is designated Metropolitan Open Land and the proposal is contrary to Policy 7.17 of the London Plan. The canopies, utility boxes and signage and proposed commercial activity are detrimental to the openness of the landscape and have no connection to open space uses of the land.
  • There are other car washing facilities already operating in the immediate area and alternative sites available in nearby industrial areas, and no exceptional circumstances that would justify overriding the protection of MOL and granting approval.
  • The proposal due to its height, appearance and prominent location is harmful to the landscape of the Lee Valley Regional Park, adding commercial clutter in one of the only stretches of green landscaping in the Waltham Forest section of Lea Bridge Road.
  • Waste water from car washes is classified by the Environment Agency as trade effluent, but this was not indicated on the application form which suggests the applicants are unaware of their environmental responsibilities in operating a car wash. There is no provision for water treatment or recycling and would appear to have been operating in 2016 without the necessary consent from Thames Water to discharge to mains sewer.
  • The use is a nuisance to neighbours and users of the Park by reason of the visible commercial activity and noise generated and the smell of chemicals and detergent which was apparent during the period of unconsented operation in 2016.
COMMENTS ON THE APPELLANT’S STATEMENT OF CASE
 
Rebuttal of reason for refusal no. 1
  • The appellant is incorrect to claim that the site clearly lies on brownfield land – no above-ground built structures have ever existed on the application site. The paving of the surface for car parking does not affect the openness of the land – it is frequently the case that MOL includes car parks and utility features such as lamp columns and signage.
  • The appellant’s reference to Paragraph 89 of the NPPF is misleading. The full wording of the ‘brownfield’ exception is, ‘limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.​‘
  • While the site should not be regarded as previously developed, clearly the car wash canopies and signage have a greater impact than the original site, which was free from any structures.
 
Employment
  • Given that the car wash requires little more than sufficient space accessible to cars, a water supply and drainage there are other suitable alternative sites available in the area where the employment could be provided. There are extensive industrial and commercial zones nearby.
  • Since the site is MOL lying within the Lee Valley Regional Park, if the existing car park is underused as claimed, surplus areas should be returned to parkland and not developed for inappropriate uses.
 
Temporary planning permission
  • The appellant’s planning application form and Design and Access statement do not state that the application is for temporary permission, nor did the LPA’s advertising of the planning application. 
 
Processing of the application
  • The appellant claims that, ‘In October 2016 the applicant did erect the canopies and the use commenced’. This is incorrect with construction and use beginning at a much earlier date. The groundworks were completed by June 2016 and it was in operation at the beginning of July 2016 as evidenced by the reporting of planning breaches to Waltham Forest Council. At the beginning of August 2016 the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority acted on complaints from members of the public to stop the operation of the car wash pending planning approval.     
 
If you objected to the original planning application, you may also wish to point out that you do not represent another car wash business, as the appellant suggests.
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Beating of the Bounds 2017!

The late great Katy Andrews leading the Beating of the Bounds ceremony.

Save Lea Marshes (SLM) is organising a walk following the ancient tradition of “Beating the Bounds”. Revived in the 1990s by the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee, “Beating the Bounds” involves blessing the boundaries of the area following pagan and Christian rites and more recent traditions.

Once each year, sometimes on a legally designated or customary date, people still walk around local areas of land to re-establish rights of common or mark significant
boundaries, such as of a Parish, Manor or an area of Common Land or public open space. This often takes place during Rogationtide, in springtime, when prayers were once offered asking for the fertility of the land. Willow sticks decorated with flowers and ribbons are traditionally carried and important boundary markers hit with them. Younger children are turned upside-down to have their heads bumped three times at significant points ‘to imprint the location on their minds!’ – boys might also be hung over bridges, and girls were “pricked” with pins. This year Rogation Sunday falls on 21st May!

To find out more about this part of our history, come along and enjoy the fun!

WHEN: SUNDAY 21ST MAY. We will be doing the traditional “stripping of the willows” from 1.00 pm and the walk will be departing at 2.00 p.m.
WHERE: Gathering on the tow path by the Princess of Wales Pub, E5 9RB
 We will be walking around the perimeter of Leyton and Walthamstow Marshes, with our special guests the “THE BELLES OF LONDON CITY” folk dancers with a hobby horse.
We will be pointing out the places where walking rights have been eroded and sites which are threatened by development, but also have fun along the way.
Bring your friends and family, learn about local history, and enjoy a good walk, a song or two, some dancing and good company. There will be stopping- off points for those who do not wish to go the whole route. Wear sensible shoes. Bring water. Dress colourfully if you like. Parts of the walk may pose difficulties for those with buggies and wheelchairs. We will help with finding alternative routes on those section. Dogs welcome.
Unfortunately, we have been informed that The Princess of Wales will be shut for redecoration on the day of the walk and so recommend you eat lunch beforehand or bring a picnic. We have, however, been kindly permitted to use the tables outside the pub to prepare the willows etc.
SLM is renewing the tradition of this walk following in the footsteps of local historian Katy Andrews. She sadly passed away two years ago but we know she will be with us in spirit and very much present in the history of the area that she studied for many years.
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Proof that the LVRPA have long planned to sell off land to fund the new ice rink

We suspected the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) was lying when Shaun Dawson, the Chief Executive, and Paul Osborne, the Chairman, told us, on 19 January 2017, that there has been no decision to sell of the land around the Waterworks Centre for development to fund the building of the ice centre. Now we have the proof. They have been discussing it for over a year…

We have obtained the correspondence between Waltham Forest Council and the LVRPA regarding the Council’s Lea Valley East Side Vision via a Freedom of Information Act request.

References to the salient points are set out below.

File Page Date Comment
1-10 4 26/1/16 First mention of “enabling development”
1-10 24 20/4/16 First mention of Academy Trust on the Thames Water site
11-20 7 15/5/16 First mention of moving the rangers out of the Waterworks Centre
11-20 10, 12 24/6/16 First mention of “enabling development” at the Waterworks Centre
11-20 18 27/6/16 “The cap ex for the new twin pad will rely on the release of value from the existing WaterWorks Centre facility; this could be for an hotel/residential and maybe industrial. Our preference is for the most lucrative.”
21-30 28 8/11/16 Mention of the car wash
21-30 49 11/11/16 “Three aspects of the masterplan which are all highly sensitive and will attract a hostile response from some quarters: …”
21-30 58 14/11/16 “Ranger base to relocate to Connaught Close”
21-30 64 24/11/16 Invitation to breakfast at Borough Market
31.1-31.2 1 20/12/16 Our petition
31.3-33 36-37 15/12/16 Mention of some sort of development at the Riding Centre (canopies similar to those at the car wash?) that are recognized to be “inappropriate”. All developments referred to as inappropriate for MoL by Council.
31.3-33 42 22/12/16 Our petition
34-40 2 9/1/17 Our petition and mention, by the Council, of scaling back the development at the WaterWorks so it doesn’t include the golf course.
34-40 17 11/1/17 Mention of developments on the Thames Water site
34-40 37-40 12/1/17 Briefing note to Coghill
41-43 9 17/1/17 Our petition

The documents are available from our website: http://www.saveleamarshes.org.uk/

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Goodbye T46

t46-ripOn Hackney Marsh the poplars stand forlorn –

The dingy old pavilion built of bricks

Dilapidated – pot-holed carpark.  Mourn

With us!  They’ve come to fell T Forty-six,

A blameless poplar standing in the way

Of progress, victim of the shady tricks

Of those who seek to justify their pay

By filling up the open space with cars

And noise and fumes, converting green to grey.

The trees, the birds, these spaces all are ours!

We want to keep them green and free for all,

And not enclosed by roads and gates with bars.

The few remaining poplars still stand tall,

Confined behind the new pavilion’s wall.

Click here to Reply, Reply to all, or Forward
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Waltham Forest Council Refuse To Debate Waterworks Development

Council refuse to debate issues raised by Leyton Marshes petition in Full Council Meeting
If a petition reaches 4000 signatures Waltham Forest Council say they will debate it in Full Council. Yet, Abigail Woodman, the person who organised the petition against the Council’s plan to rezone part of Leyton Marshes for development, received the attached letter a few days ago saying that a petition will only be debated if all 4000 signatories live, work or study in Waltham Forest. Abigail’s response is also attached, and we echo her call for the issue – which affects people beyond the boundary of the borough of Waltham Forest – to be given the attention it deserves through debate at Full Council.
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LVRPA Officially Respond to ‘Eastside Vision’: Conceding Little Ground on Waterworks Plans

img_2466-jpg_lo-resThe day after we handed in our large petition to Waltham Forest Council, we received a copy of the official letter that has been written by Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, to the council regarding the plans for the Waterworks, Leyton Marsh and the Thames Water Depot.

We were expecting much of what was is contained therein – mostly Newspeak guff about improvements, regeneration and access whilst they plan to sell off marshland, an existing community asset and de-register MOL:

lvrpa-response-to-vision-consultation

However, there is also a very telling backtrack on the plans to develop the Waterworks site, it is stated that the Authority “intends when more detailed work is carried out to restrict the actual land used for residential development to the current ‘built footprint’ of the building and surrounding car park area. We will retain the rest of the site as public open space.”

So what does this mean?

Although this new position demonstrates the effective pressure exerted on the Authority from the community to protect the marshes, this alteration does next to nothing to address the issues raised by the proposed development of Leyton Marshes.

Our Metropolitan Open Land can only be protected by opposing any sale or development of it for housing. What we have seen in the myriad of developments in the Lower Lee Valley is the piecemeal erosion of open space and the gradual privatisation of public land. In each case, the argument is made that the particular development is justified and only constitutes a temporary exclusion of the public or comprises of a small area. However, the cumulative effect of each development is not only the net loss of public land but the weakening of protections that are meant to protect all our most valued green spaces, keeping them open for all.

It is acknowledged that the new Ice Centre will go ahead if an ‘exception’ is made to the current protections for the land. We were informed that the basketball training facility erected on Leyton Marsh was justified by the ‘exceptional circumstance’ of the Olympic Games. There is no such exceptional circumstance here, just the desire to create a leisure facility, which could be constructed elsewhere without necessitating loss of public space.

The current position of the Authority will not do anything to protect the fragile Waterworks Nature Reserve, created in part to mitigate the effects of the conversion of the adjacent site into the Thames Water Depot, now also marked for further development. Nature reserves cannot exist as islands of nature, akin to zoos, surrounded by human habitation polluted by noise and light. Development works and housing on the footprint of the Waterworks Centre and car park, even if limited to just that area, will have a degrading effect on the nature reserve. The location of the centre where it is did support education and enjoyment of nature, until it was neglected by the Authority. This large facility will be lost to beneficial public uses forever.

screenshot_2017-02-02-11-32-13Much of the car park area remains green and supports trees and wildlife, this will also be lost. As can be seen from the image, the majority of the land in front of the Visitor Centre is green space, not car park! Very little of the area is actually hard surfacing; the access road, the semicircle in front of the building, and the parking areas themselves on the east side cover no more than 16% of the area under consideration for development. The whole western side next to the flood relief channel is completely green and is more than one third of the area.

The following table, measured in hundreds of square metres, demonstrates the composition of the site:

Waterworks Centre and carpark South of Waterworks Centre
Tarmac       52       0
Buildings        9      0
Grass      117    207
Total      178    207

So as can be seen from the table, the Waterworks site which presently contains a marginal ‘built footprint’. Eighty four percent of Waterworks is green space. Whether or not this development area is reduced, the public did not want partial building on the Waterworks but complete protection for land valued very highly. The signatures of 4800 people on our petition attests to this.

You can still sign the petition here

And do share this video of Abigail Woodman, creator of the petition, being interviewed on London Live. There is no evidence the flats being proposed will be affordable, let alone ‘solve’ the housing crisis especially as the Auhtority explicitly intend to sell the area to create maximum revenue to finance the new ice centre:  http://www.londonlive.co.uk/news/2017-02-03/are-open-spaces-more-important-than-dealing-with-the-housing-crisis

The campaign continues!

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A ‘Consensus’ Without a Vote: How the LVRPA Waved Through Selling Off Waterworks

Around 15 objectors attended the special meeting of the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority to consider Waltham Forest’s Eastside Vision document which included the proposal to build housing on the Waterworks site at Leyton Marsh. The LVRPA had deliberately moved the meeting from Waltham Forest to its headquarters at Myddleton House on the outskirts of London to make it hard for objectors to attend. It had been claimed Myddleton House was more convenient for Board members, however, about ten of the members failed to turn up. A disgraceful attempt to limit public participation.
Four objectors and one former member of the Authority spoke urging the Board members to oppose the Vision document where it related to the Waterworks site, highlighting the Metropolitan Open Land status of the site and the purpose in establishing the Authority to protect open space from development, warning members against setting a precedent for future misuse of MOL, pointing out the incompatibility of building housing next to the Essex Filter Beds Nature Reserve. They referred to the LVRPA’s own statements about the vital importance of the Lea Valley as a Green Lung, especially with modern day air pollution, and how when it was proposed to build Essex Wharf on the edge of the Park the LVRPA had opposed the development with the statement ‘Residential development does not fit within the remit of the Park.’ Yet in this case not only was the LVRPA not opposing development it was actually proposing it within the Park itself. No mention of this land sale had been made when the initial consultation about the future of the Ice Centre was carried out, even though it has since turned out that the sale of this land will contribute to the construction of a new Ice Centre.
Not one Board member asked a question of the objecting speakers. It was plain they had no arguments to counter the obvious strength of the opposition. All the points raised were ignored. The attitude of the Board could be summed up in the statement of one member that he was a pragmatist and did not think things could just stay as they were for ever. One member, Denise Jones from Tower Hamlets, did express astonishment at the idea of building on MOL. However, she still concurred with a supposed compromise proposed by Hackney Councillor Chris Kennedy that house building be limited to the footprint of the car park and cafe. This was presented as meeting objectors’ concerns, which it completely failed to do and was not a proposal endorsed by the objectors. Ms Jones also came up with a proposal to limit the height of any housing to be built on the site. This met with little support. Plainly this further limitation could make any proposed development unviable. Mr Kennedy showed no interest in it. To demonstrate how completely out of touch members were one even asserted that air pollution was getting better!
The Vision put forward by Waltham Forest of building housing at the Waterworks site ties in with the LVRPA’s decision to allow the sale of land. In turn, the sale of land for housing at the Waterworks is intimately linked with the Authority’s plans to build a new Ice Centre at its present site on Lea Bridge Road. Illustrating the confused thinking on the Board, one member suggested these two projects, the Ice Centre and the sale of land for housing, should be treated as being entirely separate! If this was to be done then there would absolutely no rationale behind the sale. In fact, not all the members were convinced of the need for an Ice Centre. Bizarrely, another member who expressed this point of view still made no objections to the idea of selling the land.
Stephen Wilkinson, the LVRPA’s head of planning, when invited to speak, said nothing of any consequence simply rambling through a feeble attempt at putting the plans ‘in context’, although he did insist, incorrectly, that it had always been a part of the LVRPA’s remit to support major venues, like the Ice Centre. He made no attempt to counter any of the points presented by objectors. One of the objectors had referred to counsel’s opinion that the LVRPA claimed it had received. He considered the LVRPA had gained little support from this opinion. Mr Wilkinson failed to provide any concrete statements from the advice to counter the objector’s comments. He avoided any discussion of the legal status of the land and the difficulties the LVRPA and Waltham Forest would have in altering this status.
He then handed over to a representative from Waltham Forest’s planning department to explain the ‘Vision’. The officer from Waltham Forest had little to add apart from the usual bullish discussion about the housing needs of the Borough and its desire to attract investment. Much of her presentation concerned Waltham Forest’s desire to create an attractive ‘Gateway’ to the Borough. Of course, the present green spaces at Leyton Marsh along with the facilities at the Waterworks provide exactly this kind of gateway and were specifically designed to achieve that purpose.
Essentially this vote is just another step along the road that the LVRPA has decided on. As Gerry Lyons pointed out, it was the LVRPA which had approached Waltham Forest with its proposal for building housing at the Waterworks. Disingenuously the Waltham Forest officer maintained the Vision is not a planning document. Strictly speaking this is so, however, it is plain the whole point of the exercise was for the two Authorities to co-ordinate their plans for the area.
Predictably the LVRPA Board went ahead and endorsed the ‘Vision’, including its proposal for housing at the Waterworks. It tried to make out that this did not imply approval at this stage, although in reality those in charge are determined to push ahead with this proposal. However, it was well worth making a show at the meeting. The presence of so many objectors was plainly a shock to the members of the Board. They know they will fact determined opposition. Unacceptable as Mr Kennedy’s suggestion was it shows that at least some of the Board are aware of the difficulties they face with public opposition. The Council will have to consult on its new Area Plan and get the agreement of the Mayor of London that it is compatible with the London Plan. Then it will have to be submitted to the Secretary of State who, in light of the public opposition, will probably have to send it to a public inquiry. Faced with public hostility and multiple objections and finding the site available for development restricted in size and height may convince Waltham Forest that it is on a hiding to nothing. Leyton Marsh has been the site of many famous and successful battles by local people to protect their open space. This will be another one.
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