The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) wants to replace the current ice centre on Lea Bridge Road with a building that is almost twice the size. If planning permission is granted, it means we will lose precious Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).
The application can be found here: planning.walthamforest.gov.uk/application-search#VIEW?RefType=APPPlanCase&KeyText=194162. There are a lot of documents to wade through, so if you don’t have time to look at them here’s a sample objection you can use. Email it, with your name and address, to email@example.com
And if you need a reminder why we are so dead set against the LVRPA’s plans, have a look at the post immediately following this one.
To whom it may concern
Lea Valley Ice Centre, Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, London, E10 7QL. Application ID: 194162
I wish to object to the planning application 194162 to build an ice centre on Lea Bridge Road. My objection centres on the fact that the proposal constitutes inappropriate development on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and the applicant has not made out the case for ‘very special circumstances’ to outweigh the harm to MOL. I have also made comments about biodiversity and contaminated land.
Metropolitan Open Land
The site of the proposed ice centre is MOL and it is settled law that MOL has the same protections in law as Green Belt. Section 143 of The National Planning Policy Framework (2019) states that
Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.
Local authorities are directed, at Section 145 of the NPPF, to regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt except in a number of exceptional circumstances. The proposed development does not meet the requirements of any one of the exceptions and is, therefore, inappropriate development on Green Belt. In order to persuade the planning authority to grant planning permission, the applicant must, therefore, prove that
very special circumstances exist. It does not and the proposed development is consequently contrary to the NPPF, as well as Policy 7.17 of the London Plan, Policies G2, G3 and G4 of the Draft London Plan, Policy CS5 of the Waltham Forest Local Plan and Policy 84 of the Draft Waltham Forest Local Plan.
The LVRPA states that
the VSC case and the benefits that will accrue as a result of the development of the replacement ice centre will clearly outweigh the harm to MOL [my emphasis]. Yet there is nothing
clear about their case. Most of the circumstances the LVRPA has advanced are not reasons why the ice centre should be built on MOL that can contribute towards
very special circumstances Many of them, in the LVRPA’s own words, are benefits that will accrue if the development goes ahead. The only circumstance that should be considered is the fact that the current ice centre will need to close if the development does not go ahead. The LVRPA argues that this means that the community will lose a sporting venue and all the benefits that go alongside it, but this is only the case if the LVRPA decides not to pursue another site for a larger ice centre. At this point, the LVRPA is claiming that there is no other site but this is not true; the Eton Manor site is a viable alternative. Consequently, the fact that the current ice centre will close is not sufficient to outweigh the harm to MOL. The LVRPA has not made a case for
very special circumstances and the application should be denied.
The Biodiversity survey and report (document 6D3) states that the development will provide more than the required 10% net gain in biodiversity. If the development goes ahead this should, of course, be welcomed. However, the ecological enhancements the applicant is proposing in the Design and access statement (documents 6D7) are not dependent on the development. They could – indeed should – have been done anyway and the LVRPA should be challenged on its fitness to manage the site in the future given its poor record to date. That the site currently supports
largely common habitats of generally low ecological value (Design and access statement (documents 6D7)) is the fault of the LVRPA, no one else.
Significantly, the architect and landscape architect employed by the applicant admit that it is nigh-on impossible to find a way to ensure the plans they develop – whether they be biodiversity plans, low-carbon plans, plans to use responsibly-sourced recycled materials during the build or plans to limit noise and light – are implemented in full. Any benefits described by the applicants are possible future benefits, possible future benefits that might not materialise, and they come at a cost to existing wildlife and to the local community. If the development were to be granted permission, it would be critical that robust long-term planning conditions were put in place to ensure the LVRPA keeps to its biodiversity promises given the way they have let the site deteriorate up till now. Similarly, it would be important that strong planning conditions were put in place to ensure the low-carbon, environmentally-sensitive design-and-build criteria that minimise light and noise pollution are not watered down by the contractor during the build.
Many people enjoy spending time in open green space throughout the year and Porter’s Field, Leyton Marsh, adjacent to the site, is particularly well used by people of all ages. Given this, it is concerning that the Land contamination assessment (Documents 6DD) does not contain a category that encompasses these people. It states that there is a high risk of illness caused by ingestion, dermal contact and inhalation of asbestos fibres and dust during construction, and a high risk of onsite sources of contamination leaching through surface permeable soils and harming construction workers. Surely people walking close to the site during construction will be exposed to as much risk as construction workers? But, while risk to construction works can be mitigated from high to moderate with the appropriate use of PPE and implementation of CDM regulations, what happens to those using the area informally to walk their dogs and play football? How are they going to be protected? This issue is of particularly concern to local people given the cavalier way the Olympic Delivery Authority, working on the applicant’s land and with the applicant’s oversight, managed the very same situation when the temporary basketball training centre was built on Porter’s Field in 2012. Huge piles of contaminated soil were left uncovered for weeks, and the risks to health were constantly underplayed. This must not happen again. If the development were to be granted permission, it would be critical that robust planning conditions were put in place to protect everyone in the vicinity of the building site from harm.
If the development were to be granted permission, planning conditions should also be put in place that ensure the applicants not only monitor groundwater and gas throughout the build phase, but have a plan in place to fully mitigate any adverse effects of contamination quickly. The LVRPA, in part, justifies this development with reference to the increase in biodiversity that they claim will result. This will mean little if the development has caused significant damage to the environment as it is being built.