Waltham Forest Council: Answers to FOI Request

Warning: the following communication from Waltham Forest Council contains circular arguments, contradictions and outright untruths. Not suitable for consumption by persons suffering from high blood pressure.

Freedom of Information Request: Leyton Marshes ODA Basketball

Thank you for your request for information received by the Council on 20th April 2012.  In your request, you asked the following questions which have been answered below as follows:

1. Please provide, in detail, the restoration plans to put the site back to its state before it was built on. Please include steps on how wildlife will be introduced back into the area. How will this area also be maintained to ensure its back to how it was after the building work has been taken down?

Answer: Condition 1 attached to the planning consent requires a “scheme of reinstatement works detailing the size, species, location, phasing and timing of replacement planting that shall be submitted to and approved by the local planning authority prior to its implementation, and thereafter fully implemented in accordance with the said details.” The Local Planning Authority has not yet received the scheme of reinstatement.

2. What other land in the area was considered for this building work, apart from Leyton Marshes?

Answer: This information is not held by the Council beyond that set out in the Report at sections 8.16 to 8.22. The Council understands you to have a copy of the Report; if not, it is available on the Council’s website.

3. Why hasn’t London Borough of Waltham Forest withdrawn planning permission when the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) broke the law by excavating 35cm deeper on Leyton Marsh than the planning conditions allow?

Answer: On 5th April 2012 an application with the following description was approved (ref:2012/0359):  Non-material amendment to planning permission 2011/1560 – Excavation of 2,100 of material (equivalent of a 30cm depth across the excavation area) across the suite to provide a stable sub-base, with an excavation depth ranging from 15cm -60cm.  

The Council makes no comment on the premise to this question.  

4. Please provide documentation showing that the Leyton Urban District Council Act 1904 “that the marsh would be kept as an open space” has been superseded.

 Answer: The Council assumes that this request seeks information as to repeal of the Act.  If this is not the case you are invited to clarify your request.  The Council holds no such documentation which is not otherwise publicly available.  The Council understands that (so far as relevant to the other requests) sections 138, 139, 142, 144, 145 and 150 of the Act remain in force.

5. RE: 2011/1560 Agenda item 41: “whilst there are grounds to withhold consent with regards to a number of these policies, the exceptional circumstance has been considered as a material consideration in a finely balanced decision.” What is the ‘exceptional circumstance’ that allowed planning permission of this site to go through?

Answer: The Report (from which this quote) is drawn sets out the factors and circumstances before the Planning Committee when it made its decision. (N.B. This is a grammatically nonsensical and circular answer)

6. How is the community benefiting from this?

Answer:  The factors, including community benefits, considered by the Committee in making its decision are set out in the report.(N.B. There are none).

7. Given the history of Leyton Marshes, particularly of it previously being used a rubble site after the Second World War, why wasn’t a thorough EIA inspection carried out on the area?

A: The Local Planning Authority received an application for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening opinion on 26th October 2011, relating to development involving the construction of a temporary basketball training venue.  Based on the information submitted at the time it was decided that the development does not constitute EIA development. It was considered that issues regarding ecology and contaminated land could be dealt with at the planning application stage if necessary. 

8. What is the council’s response to asbestos being unearthed and an unexploded bomb being found on the land?

Answer: The Council takes this as being a request for details of the steps the Council has taken in response to the discovery of the asbestos and unexploded ordnance.  If this is not the case, you are invited to clarify the request.

Initial site testing, including the Ground Investigation Report by RSA Geotechnics Ltd (Jan 2012) had not indicated the presence of asbestos. A copy of this report is attached for your information.

In the sampling of two small soil stockpiles following deeper excavations, a total of 26 samples were taken. During this process numerous small fragments of asbestos cement sheet were noted. The stockpiles comprise predominantly granular soils with fragments of ash, clinker, rusted metal, brick, concrete and other inclusions.

13 samples were tested for, among other things, distributed asbestos fibres (to assess the feasibility of hand-picking of asbestos fragments to reduce the categorization of the material for disposal and re-use).

The result of the sampling and analysis is that the health risks to workers, engaged in working on and adjacent to the stockpiles, is negligible and that the risks to those off-site are too low as to be possible to calculate. The existing asbestos is expected to be managed according to the following broad process:

  Provisionally, to hand pick sufficient of the asbestos cement fragments and separately bag and dispose of it, such that the stockpile material becomes suitable for non-hazardous waste disposal or retention and re-use on site as appropriate. (N.B. No explanation of how the asbestos is identified).

  To tarpaulin sheet the stockpiles to be retained on site, in order to generally minimize any potential for neighbour nuisance through dust formation and wind-blown material arising. (N.B. Rubble piles were left without any covering for over 4 weeks).

  To dispose of some of the material off-site as appropriate. (N.B. Listen to Mark Sorrel on the recording of the meeting as he says that no material can be removed until tests on the soil have come back – work began on 1st March and results have still not been obtained on the contaminated soil on site).

  To instruct the project managers and site contractors to overcheck the works
method statement

  To re-use retained material, and to cover that material with topsoil and to
subsequently seed or turf that topsoil so that grass re-growth forms part of the
restoration works for the site. When the site is restored in accordance with the
Planning Permission, such that there is no visual change to the site, the site will be subject to final certification vis-à-vis the minor remediation discussed above.
In general, the marshes in this area remain relatively undisturbed so there will be a limited amount of exposure to the soil by users.

Unexploded ordnance has been found on development sites across London for many years and is an unfortunate fact of the city’s history. Procedures for such instances are well established and before work commenced the required surveys were undertaken and detected the presence of metal underground. As a result, a specialist consultant monitored the excavations and when the unexploded device was discovered, work on site was stopped and the device was disposed of in the prescribed manner under police supervision with no danger to local residents or users of the Marsh. (N.B. No marsh users or residents were evacuated when the workers were). A non-intrusive survey was undertaken prior to commencement of works, as is standard practice, and the report is attached for information.

9. What is the council’s response to the ODA breaking planning permission, and the law by digging further than they were permitted?

See the response to question 3 above. I trust that the above satisfies your enquiry.

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