What impact will Lea Bridge development have on the marshes?

The planning application for 97 Lea Bridge Road has just been publicised by Waltham Forest. 300 homes are proposed for the site which is east of the new Lea Bridge station on Argall Way overlooking Leyton Marsh. Existing industrial/ commercial buildings are proposed to be demolished to make way for the scheme which incudes 3 x tower blocks of up to 18 storeys. The planning application is listed as No.153834 on WF Council website planning application pages. (The end date for sending in objections has now been confirmed and will now be Monday 14th March).

In light of this latest development news, local resident Claire Weiss reflects on what impact this proposed development. alongside that of a possible free school on the Thames Water site, the Mini Holland scheme and the construction of a new ice rink will have on the marshes…

In principle I support the building of more homes – primarily because more and more people need somewhere to live. The more drastic the housing shortage, the more will be the pressure for property and rent prices to rise. I am opposed to housing schemes that have low proportions of homes available at the ‘affordable’ level – I suggest the need in our area is for something like 80% to be in this social housing category. I am also opposed to housing schemes that are unsuitable from the environmental point of view. The three 18-storey tower blocks proposed will contravene much research on what kind of accommodation is suitable as homes for people especially families to live in: they will also change the nature of Leyton Marsh as an open space, since they will rise above a horizon level and create a landmark where one is not needed. We won’t stop the building of 300 homes, but we can influence their nature, relevance and appearance.

There are other dilemmas. In principle I support the Mini-Holland aims of improving the air quality by encouraging more people to cycle and walk and take fewer short journeys in cars. However the Mini-Holland infrastructure under construction next to Lea Bridge Road on the marshes is replacing grassland with horrifying amounts of tarmac, felling many trees in the process.

And lastly but not least, the ice rink proposals, whatever the LVRPA plumps for in the end – I am aware that this facility is valued by local young people, and it’s seen as a positive environment for children and people of all ages to enjoy being active informally.

Before long, I suspect that Lea Bridge Road will be an urban road, and the open land of the marshes will hardly be visible. The encroachment is difficult to stop. More people need homes; they need transport facilities; they need social facilities. The coming of the railway to Leyton in 2016 is having a similar effect to that of 1840 when it originally opened – it was the trigger for the development of housing, shops, schools etc. My view is that we have to strongly influence the nature and appearance of the proposed buildings, and we have to defend the existence of the remaining open land to remain as unspoilt as possible. At the same time I acknowledge that, paradoxically, residents new and old should go and enjoy the wilder marshes in greater numbers. This should not be the preserve of a few.

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