We are asking everyone to urgently read and distribute the following information outlining a very real renewed threat to our marsh:

Official Letter from LVRPA confirms development agenda

A letter from Shaun Dawson sent from Chief Executive of the LVRPA to Cllr. Ian Rathbone a few days ago outlines how the authority intends to spend the £65,000 arising from the loan of Leyton Marsh to the Olympic Delivery Authority. It is clear that as well as popular suggestions made at user forums, such as natural screening of the present ice centre, proposals from the authority which received no support, such as altering the car park access and clearing wildlife areas will also be adopted. However, there are even more worrying statements about LVRPA’s agenda for Lea Marshes.

Right at the end of the communication, the Chief Executive Shaun Dawson answers Ian’s query about possible development of a new ice centre. Ever since the ill conceived basketball training court was constructed, Save Leyton Marsh group have been pressing for a long-term commitment from the authority that the land would be properly restored and never built on again.

Unfortunately, despite all the community campaigning that has taken place this year, the letter confirms that Leyton Marsh is being considered as a possible site for a brand new larger ice centre.

Laying topsoil

Geo-textile membrane being laid on Leyton Marsh

The letter states that the LVRPA are “looking at a range of sites” in the Lee Valley for this new ice centre including the “existing site on Lea Bridge Road.” As the proposal is for a larger ice centre, if the present site is chosen, this will include construction on presently green land. Even more disturbing is the fact that the original concrete foundations for the basketball court were left under the ground so they could support a future structure. The addition of recycled construction waste in the reinstatement plan was queried since this is usually placed underneath surfaces requiring heavy loads, such as roads and multi-storey buildings. Locals were baffled as to why the authorities who were publicly committed and under obligation to restore the marsh to “its original condition” placed a geo-textile membrane 12cm down in the reinstated ground, especially as this has since caused the marsh to become flooded with standing water which is now rotting the turf . However the membrane was explicitly included in the reinstatement plan to assist “possible future excavation” which appears an increasingly likely possibility.

The basketball court development only received planning permission on the basis that the facility was “temporary”, that the Olympics were “special circumstances” and that the marsh would be “restored to its original condition” Now the marsh has been damaged, there are no special circumstances of “national interest” such as the Olympics and the development of an ice centre would be permanent. However, as we warned, the planning permission given for the basketball courts changed the nature of the land from ‘playing fields’ to ‘suitable for purposes of assembly and leisure’, thus making future development easier.

What You Can Do
It is imperative we act quickly to let the authority know they should eliminate the Metropolitan Open Land of Porter’s Field Meadow (Leyton Marsh) from consideration in any future development plans. Over two thousand people have already signed petitions demanding that the LVRPA fulfil their obligation as guardians of the land and protect Leyton Marsh from development.

Please come along to our meeting at 7.30pm on Monday 14th January at Princess of Wales pub to discuss ways we can protect Leyton Marsh from any future construction.

For those of you who can’t make the meeting, there are many ways you can help. We need people to tweet @LeeValleyPark reminding them that the community is completely against any development; to share this news and your views on Twitter and Facebook ; to write to the LVRPA and Waltham Forest Council/ Hackney Council and ask for assurances they will not allow development of this treasured green space and most importantly inform everyone you know about what is happening!

Whilst the authority have claimed any attempt to develop Leyton Marsh would involve “community engagement” (not consultation), the community have made their views of united opposition clear and will continue to do so until the future of the marsh as an open uncommercialised space is guaranteed.

We have an anniversary fundraising quiz on Friday 18th January at the Hare & Hounds pub. Please come along and invite your friends – funds will be needed for a new campaign to save our marsh!

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