Objection of the week no. 10

This series of objections to the LVRPA’s plans for the new Ice Centre was originally supposed to end a fortnight ago. However, although the LVRPA submitted its planning application last February, and the period for members of the public to submit comments ended last May, since then the LVRPA has added more and more documents to its submission. So, if the LVRPA is going to keep on adding documents, we shall keep on raising objections!

Further Submission in support of Objection to Planning Application 194162

Lee Valley Ice Centre Lea Bridge Road Leyton London E10 7QL

Dear Sirs,

Lee Valley Ice Centre

I am a member of Save Lea Marshes and I should like to make a further submission on the planning application for a new ice centre on Lea Bridge Road.

In the submission I made on 7th March, I disputed the accuracy of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s description of its proposals for the Eton Manor site. The Park Authority submits in its Planning Statement that the Eton Manor site is not available for consideration for the replacement Ice Centre as it is reserved for facilities “associated” with the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre (LVHTC).

I am submitting the following further information to be considered in conjunction with the submission of 7th March:

  1. Through a Freedom of Information request I have obtained the invitation to developers issued by the Park Authority in July 2018 with respect to the Eton Manor site. See this document. In the light of the Park Authority’s submissions that the site is reserved for facilities “associated” with LVHTC I would ask the Council to note the statements in the invitation:

    Suitable for a number of alternative uses such as commercial / leisure (subject to planning)

    Conditional or unconditional offers invited for the freehold or leasehold interest

    The site is suitable for a range of different uses, subject to the receipt of the relevant permissions, the most complicit being identified as leisure, sports and hotel.

    It is clear that the Park Authority was willing to sell to the best offer, with uses not limited to facilities “associated” with LVHTC. We understand that that remains the case.

  2. At the meeting of the Park Authority’s Regeneration and Planning Committee held on 27th February it was resolved as follows:

    Area 1 ‘Development Platform’ Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre – the development platform should be removed from the brownfield habitat type and re-designated as white land or temporary landscape as with other areas for development. [See pages 3 to 5 of this document.]

    “Area 1” is the area on the eastern side of the Eton Manor site which the Park Authority has appraised, and rejected, as an alternative site for the Ice Centre.

I make the following submissions arising out of this further information.

The Park Authority’s assertion in its Planning Statement that Eton Manor is not available as an alternative site for the replacement Ice Centre is untrue

The further information in this submission underlines the fact that the Eton Manor Site, ruled out by the Park Authority in its Planning Statement as required for “associated” facilities for the LVHTC, is in fact being offered up for sale as a “Development Platform”.

We understand that the Park Authority has had discussions with one or more prospective developers about establishing a hotel + restaurant and gym at this site but a verbal report at the Park Authority’s AGM in June was made to the effect that no agreements had been made or were imminent.

The question whether the “Very Special Circumstances” exception relied upon by the Park Authority applies must be considered in the light of the availability of this alternative site, and possibly other alternative sites.

In their presentation to members of the Council’s planning committee, the Park Authority laid great stress upon the fact that there is no practical alternative to their building this facility on Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).

I feel confident that officers in their report to members will “look through” that submission and advise members that the question for them to decide is whether “very special circumstances” justify the building of the Ice Centre on this specific site.

The Eton Manor site is classified as MOL. It does not have the same ecological or strategic value as the Lea Bridge site and, as I pointed out in my earlier submission, in a recent assessment of MOL by the Council it was concluded:

[although] the whole parcel lies within the Lee Valley Regional Park… in isolation the parcel would not be considered MOL.

The Park Authority is clearly of the same opinion. It has identified the site as a “Development Platform” and is seeking to remove the site’s MOL designation.

It is clearly the case that in deciding whether to give consent to building the replacement Ice Centre at Lea Bridge regard should be had as to whether or not other sites within the Park are available.

The Park Authority should be required to disclose whether it is seeking to de-designate any other sites, currently classified as Green Belt or MOL.

I have noted the further Site Assessment document submitted by the Park Authority which commences as follows:

We have been asked by the Greater London Authority (GLA) to provide further detail on the alternative site assessment exercise that was undertaken to assess all areas of land within Lee Valley Regional Park that is not designated as Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) as part of the preparation of proposals for a replacement Lee Valley Ice Centre.

For completeness, this site assessment should include sites which are currently designated as Green Belt or MOL but which the Park Authority is seeking or planning to have de-designated.

I make this point with specific reference to the Eton Manor Site which I submit is a superior site for reasons outlined in my previous submission. I would also add, however, that the Park Authority have been taking steps to dispose of Green Belt Land at Rammey Marsh in Enfield. See pages 7 to 11 of this document.

We believe that there are other Green Belt/MOL sites which the Park Authority is planning to dispose of. A list of sites deemed “no longer required for Park Purposes” has been identified by the Authority’s Land and Property Working Group, but the Park Authority has resisted disclosure of these sites. Pages 43 to 52 of this document is a Park Authority paper presented to members setting out the Corporate Land and Property Strategy and the activities of the Land and Property Working Group. The Corporate Land and Property Strategy is now stated by the Park Authority to be one of the elements of its Park Plan for the purposes of Section 14 (2)(a) of the Lee Valley Regional park Act.

We are not sure whether the GLA has yet submitted its observations on the Park Authority’s application but the issues I have raised in this further submission are highly relevant to the alternative site assessment requested by the GLA and I ask that this further submission be shared with them. I would stress that this further submission should be considered in conjunction with my original submission.

With best regards

Laurie Elks

Links

  1. Invitation to Developers re Eton Manor site issued by the Park Authority
  2. Minutes of the Park Authority’s Regeneration and Planning Committee 27th February 2020 (pages 3-5)
  3. Minutes of the Park Authority’s Executive Committee 21st June 2018 (pages 7-11)
  4. Park Authority Members Paper A/4237/17 dated 19th January 2017 setting out the Park Authority’s Corporate Land and Property Strategy (pages 43 to 52)
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