We’re continuing our virtual version of Beating the Bounds on Leyton Marshes, compiled for those that couldn’t take part in person on Rogation Sunday and we’re now at 🦔 Stop 5:
Here’s the clue:
“This open space – it’s all protected land
And yet a huge new ice rink’s coming here.
This home of reptiles, birds and hedgehogs and
Much other wildlife will just disappear.“
We think everyone who took part on the day cracked the clue and found this stop!
🦔Stop 5, next to the Lee Valley Ice Centre
The path that leads beneath Lea Bridge Road and along the top of Leyton Marshes follows the course of the aqueduct that once linked the filter beds to the reservoirs at Coppermill Lane. We would normally take this route to the Waterworks but ironically it is cut off by accidental water works, with the underpass flooded for the last six months so instead we are making a detour and continuing on Leyton Marsh.
Leyton Marsh fairs have taken place for centuries at this location. After the new build of the ice centre is complete, there will be no space for the fairs on Leyton Marsh, which will move to Eton Manor.
A new double-pad ice centre was approved at this location in October 2020 despite it being protected Metropolitan Open Land. The new building will be a ‘twin pad’ and be 95% bigger than the current ice centre. Save Lea Marshes argued that either a replacement community ice rink should be built at this location (on the footprint of the old building) or, preferably, that a new ice centre should be built at Eton Manor, next to the Tennis & Hockey Centre on the Olympic Park.
Siting a larger ice centre and car park at the current location involves the destruction of a known hedgehog habitat. Hedgehogs are an endangered species and are close to local extinction in East London.
Save Lea Marshes staged a ‘Halloween Ghost Wildlife’ protest to highlight the home that would be lost for this and other rare wildlife in the area. You can watch a video of the event by Ian Phillips on his YouTube channel. It was a very wet and blustery day!
In December, the local community bore witness to the ‘clearance works’ at this site. Scrub, hedgerow and trees were removed, mostly placed straight into wood chippers. One valiant protester held a one-man tree occupation at this spot. However clearance and ground investigation works have continued.
Ian Phillips explores the implications for wildlife and biodiversity here
The good news is that the construction of a temporary ice rink on Leyton Marsh has been ruled out. This must, at least in part, be attributable to the dedication of the community over the last 9 years, opposing inappropriate development on MOL at Leyton Marsh. The new facility will cost in the region of £30m-£40m and Waltham Forest Council have committed £1m to the project, although the rest of the funding is not assured.
Save Lea Marshes are working with local wildlife experts, lobbying hard for the replacement of scrub habitat and meeting the LVRPA regularly to make sure any ecological ‘enhancements’ take place on site as promised.
Well done to everyone who played their part in the campaigns for saving Leyton Marsh over the years – it has made a difference in preventing even more intrusive and damaging works, even if we weren’t able to prevent a much larger building being built here.