Below are the additional comments we have sent to Waltham Forest planning following ARUP's letter dated 18 January (on behalf of the Olympic
1.A compelling case has still
not been made that there are no alternative sites available and that it is
therefore necessary to build on Leyton marsh.
2.The site selection
assessment information reveals startling facts that undermine the Olympic
Delivery Authority’s (ODA) case that it is necessary to build on the Marsh.
3.The search for a suitable
site only started in 2009, after the Olympic Park Masterplan was fixed.
The Olympic Park Masterplan apparently includes no contingency to accommodate
facilities that subsequently could not be sited elsewhere, despite the fact
that the number of venues within the Park was reduced and the Park contains a
great array of facilities that have nothing whatsoever to do with International
Olympic Committee requirements. The ODA has still not presented evidence why
the courts cannot be incorporated into the Olympic Park.
4.The applicant states that
the LVRPA first ‘offered’ Leyton Marsh for development in 2009. There are
curious statements in the original submission that the LVRPA led ODA to believe
that the Marsh was designated playing fields (which is a different use
from open space) and, as such, may be more suitable for active leisure uses. Is
this error the reason why Leyton Marsh was wrongly assumed to be a suitable
site and held as a low cost fall-back option should other sites fell through;
but without a proper appraisal of the land use planning position?
5.Insufficient effort was made
to secure a privately controlled brownfield site in order to avoid the need to
build on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) at Leyton Marsh. The ODA attempted to
secure only one private site and cannot, therefore, assert that there is no
suitable private brownfield site available. In any case, it quickly abandoned
the search on the basis that publicly controlled open land could be secured at
a lower cost. It is axiomatic that MOL, which in almost all cases cannot be
built upon, will attract a lower commercial development value, whilst the
public value and utility of public space is difficult to value commercially
(but is invaluable to the community it serves).
6.The LVRPA agreed a license
at below commercial market rates which calls into question the
inter-relationship between the terms of this land transaction, the decision to
build on the Marsh by the LVRPA, and the evidence of a scarcity of appropriate
sites marshaled by ODA in order to secure planning permission. Having fixed
upon developing the Marsh and secured a deal with ODA, the LVRPA’s statements
in relation to alternative options to build upon the Ice Centre car park cannot
be accepted as independent or objective, but the ODA refers to this as evidence
of their exhaustive search and the unsuitability of these alternative sites.
7.It is still not clear how
the sum of £65,000 for improvements to the Marsh was arrived at. This seems to
be about half of the reported sum agreed with LVRPA securing a ‘profit’ of
£65,000 at the cost of developing a part of the Park it is empowered to
protect from development and closing public open space it is empowered to preserve and to protect the
freedom to roam.
9.The argument that it has
been impossible to secure private sites does not seem to correlate with the
fact that the Olympic organizers (ODA, LCOG, LDA, the Mayor, TfL) together hold
an extensive land bank, possess powers and resources and had sufficient time to
acquire land for all Olympic purposes. They have clearly succeeded in securing
private sites, until now. The LDA has effectively acted as agent for the ODA in
land acquisition, so statements claiming the ODA lacks sufficient powers are
10.The ODA state that other
countries’ National Olympic Committees have taken some of the available sites
identified by them. This indicates that sites were available, but that ODA
failed to secure them in good time. Is this the result of bad luck, delayed
action, or just poor planning?
11.The ODA state it rejected
offers on the basis funding and planning permission could not be secured in
time, but proceeded with Leyton Marsh on the basis that it would receive
consent, when there is and was, prima facie evidence that this could not be
assumed. The conflict with planning policy and the strong policy presumption
against development was crystal clear. The lack of perseverance in securing
private sites, combined with the failure to properly assess the constraints and
concerns that arise with development of Leyton marsh, highlights the fact that
the ODA and LVRPA have always considered the Marsh as a development soft
12.The ODA is happy to agree to
the provision of individual practice courts dotted across the area. However, when
it came to the Marsh the decision was made to construct two courts together
with a large visitor facility. Whilst the cost savings for ODA are clear, the
decision further complicates the alternative site search, which must
necessarily be larger.
13.The Local Planning Authority
(LPA) should not accept the ODA’s complicated requirements for two courts
together when the ODA did not require this elsewhere. For example, in relation
to Essex Wharf, this site can easily accommodate one court and proportionate
visitor and parking facilities. In relation to the Ice Centre, the claim that
the courts will prevent the Centre working normally clearly does not apply
where only one court is built, and probably does not even apply if two courts
are built. In any case, there is clearly plenty of spare or redundant capacity
in the car park, given a weekend motorcycle school operates there and LVRPA’s
recent proposal to construct a hotel.
14.The development of
Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) within a wider Site
of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation (SMINC) and
immediately adjoining a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) should
surely not be permitted on the basis that the impact is ‘negative’ but
which, after mitigation, will be raised only to ‘neutral or minor positive
impact’. Even these potential impacts are based upon a ‘sub optimal’ ecological
appraisal, whilst the amount of mitigation has been determined by the amount of
a land transaction, rather than measured impact or justified need.
15.The report fails to refer to
adopted plans, policy and guidance for the Marsh that clearly indicate that the
proposed development conflicts with the ecological and environmental aims for
16.The appraisal includes a
plan that shows three paths/tracks/road traversing the scrub margins, which
conflicts with other submitted plans. The survey is clearly premised upon a
different scheme from that submitted for planning.
17.This ‘sub optimal’ report is
a limited desk-top review, partly based upon informal and unrecorded
conversations with LVRPA, the land owner and recipient of over £120,000 if the
scheme is approved. The survey referred to in the report is actually a mid-winter
site ‘walk-over’. The desk-top study draws upon environmental data sets that
are partial, not site specific and dated. There is a potential compounding
error in the appraisal in which the partial and dated GIGC information is
correlated with the limited desk top study and out of season survey. The GIGC
information is itself partial and is now more than eight years old (July 2004).
18.The ‘sub optimal’ mid-Winter
timing of this limited survey means that it is unreasonable to conclude that no
stage two habitat assessments are required. Whilst it may not now be possible to
properly assess this until the Spring, it should be noted that the scheme was
envisaged and the land transaction first considered in late summer 2010 whilst
the site was first offered to the ODA in 2009. There seems to be no valid
reason to allow an exception and to accept a sub optimal report on the basis
that it would be unreasonable to expect the applicant to have commenced this
before January 2012. It is reasonable to expect that this should have been
undertaken much sooner, because the potential ecological constraints are
clearly set out in adopted policies and other published information.
19.An essential function of the
ecology report is to gather and present sufficient evidence in order to
conclusively demonstrate whether or not more detailed habitat assessments are
required. This ‘sub optimal’ report does not conclusively answer this question:
It has been ducked, apparently because the evidence base is insufficient. The
assessment of the appropriateness and effectiveness of mitigation measures,
addressed later in the report, is undermined if a habitat survey is first
needed but has not been undertaken.
20.There is clear potential for
foraging bats on the scrub margins and around the perimeter of the Marsh.An up-to-date appraisal should
therefore be undertaken. The light effects of the development will not be
limited to the external environment. The temporary tent like structures will
cast an iridescent light and appear as glowing features visible across a wide
area. The potential effects have not been assessed. The applicants seek to
remove all external lighting from the scheme, but subsequent installation of
lighting may not be subject to planning control.
21.More widely, the report
indicates the potential for reptile and amphibians in water bodies, which have
not been assessed further.’ (4.5.1). The report is inconclusive in relation to
crested newts and fails to accurately describe the location, extent and
proximity of ponds, seasonal pools, wetland, and dry ditches surrounding the
Marsh. It is not clear if a habitat survey is required or not but section 4.6.1
contains much speculation without conclusion.
22.At 4.5.1 the report asserts
that the site does not contain any areas likely to be used by nesting birds
contradicting other statement that nesting had been observed on the Marsh.
Which is true? This is important because 4.5.1 clearly indicates that an
alternative scheme may bee needed if nests are found.
23.The report identifies
potential habitat for small mammals such as mice and hedgehogs, but does not
then recommend any further survey.
24.The ‘sub optimal’ stage one
report is inconclusive in relation to a number of species’ habitats. The report
adopts an optimistic approach that any habitats subsequently discovered can be
protected; the impacts mitigated; or, failing that, the development could be
subsequently stopped or altered. This is an unjustified leap of faith.
25.This ‘sub optimal’ report
post-dates the decision to build on the Marsh, the planning application, and
also post dates the environmental impact ‘screening opinion’ and subsequent
decision not to trigger a scoping report. What was the basis of earlier
statements on ecology in the first submission (the planning statement) and the
screening request and why were they accepted and not challenged by the LPA? It
is though clear that the scheme has been altered after the study was
undertaken. The reasons for these alterations are not made explicit, but should
26.The surveyor have not
entered or attempted to assess the ox bow lake feature and island in the south
west corner of the Marsh which is describes the natural course of the River Lea
and immediately adjoins the proposed access road and the SW corner of the
proposed development. This water body is also missed in relation to reptiles
and amphibians. Is this data gap the reason why the site has been moved in the
27.The assessment is based on
there being no external lights, but the Arup letter suggests there may be some
external lighting, or possibly a further application. The luminescent effect of
the tented structures, as noted earlier, has also apparently been ignored.
28.A new stage one screening
request should be submitted and determined because:
·The development proposal has not been included in ant strategic
environmental assessment relating to the entire Olympic development scheme.
·The layout of scheme has changed and additional details relating
to plant/air conditioning etc. have been added.
·The red line and position of the development has changed (again).
·Material relating to ecology has now been submitted which was not
available when the initial request was made.
·A stage II habitat assessment may be needed and this should be
determined first as part of the EA screening rather that the substantive
·The Ecology Report identifies impacts that need to be mitigated
which separately or cumulatively may amount to significant impacts.
·The visual impact of the proposals has still not been
satisfactorily described, which is a criterion for the assessment of
·Concerns remain in relation to archaeology, which is a criterion
for the assessment of environmental impacts
·The ecology report is a limited desk-top stage one appraisal,
partly reliant on old information and informal conversations/hearsay with a
limited survey conducted out of season. The potential for gaps or flaws in the data
that may hide significant
environmental impacts need to be carefully weighed.
·The LVRPA is conflicted in relation to the application so that the
environmental information, advice and decisions provided by the Authority and
its staff cannot be relied upon without independent assessment.
·The views of consultees, such as English nature, may have altered
in relation to the revised and additional information.
·Re-running the screening exercise will allow the changes to be
advertised in accordance with the regulations and may help to comprehensively
correct flaws in the planning consultation and determination process.
Revised application materials
submitted information comprises a substantive material amendment to the
previously submitted scheme, not an addendum or supplementary information, as
the applicant mistakenly claims.
layout has changed and the position of buildings and boundaries has changed.
There are also now a series of different schemes in circulation ranging from
the pre-application plan, the application plans submitted in December and the
current plans (and there are three different plan layouts shown in different
31.The red line
boundary has changed (again) and is incorrectly described. It excludes the two
(or three) access roads/paths from the Sandy Path and arguably should include
the link road to the Lea Bridge (permission for the creation of alteration of
an access to a highway).
given in the ODA leaflet indicates an alternative or additional vehicular site
access to the east of the Ice Centre. What are the plans for this route in
terms of construction, operation or decommissioning?
changes the Mayor should be re-consulted along with all other statutory consultees
and, most importantly, the wider public.
falsely claims that the inclusion of a vehicle turning area within the site,
allowing the removal of the loop road arrangement, will involve additional road
surface on the Marsh. The Design and Access Statement should demonstrate
convincingly the options considered and demonstrate convincingly that the
layout minimises the impact upon the Marsh: it does not.
justification for the loop road has still not been made. The proposal conflicts
with the claim that vehicle movements will be both few and infrequent. The
ecology report confirms that the impact upon the scrub between the Sandy path
and the enclosure may be significant and should be minimised.
statement clearly concludes that road links from the Sandy Path, through the
scrub, and onto the marsh are undesirable and should be avoided, or at least
Visual impact and
impression is not based upon a photograph of the site and is not a ‘verified
view’. The proportions of the development and of the surrounding site,
including levels, do not accord with the actual site proportions. The image
also includes invented features that appear to be intended to soften the
apparent impact. The view cannot be described as typical or indicative of the
actual views that the public and residents will experience. It is therefore
misleading. This is compounded by the fact that this image has been given such
prominence in the leaflet recently distributed by the ODA.
impression illustrates a magically transparent boundary fence with poles but no
bracing. Will fencing panels be of wire mesh alone or they include canvas
screening attached to the fence? How can this be controlled?
39.The action of
the ODA in releasing a consultation leaflet has undermined and potentially
compromised the integrity of the statutory consultation on the application.
This compounds our earlier concerns regarding the pre-application scheme (which
differed from the submitted scheme) and our concern with running the
consultation exercise over the Christmas period.
misdirects the public and undermines the integrity of the consultation on the
planning application. The ODA has no status as an ‘Authority’ in relation to
this planning application (which is actually being progressed by a private
supplier/contractor with a leaseback arrangement), or in relation to ‘Planning’
for the Marsh, as the leaflet claims. Comments on the application may be
mistakenly addressed to the ODA, or even to the ‘Construction Hotline’ on the
advice in the leaflet.
41.The leaflet is
premised upon the misleading assumption that the development will receive
consent and proceed, without appropriate caveats.
offers assurances and presents these as certainties in relation to the
proposals, when in fact they are not offered and may not be secured as a part
of the planning application process.
falsely and misleadingly states: ‘we do
not plan any significant disruption to normal use’. The leaflet also
falsely states that all of the sum of £65,000 will be spent on Leyton Marsh by
LVRPA when other documents state that it may not.
assurances in statements relating to the SSSI’s are not fully supported by the
of so many public agencies, governmental and departmental logos (but
importantly the not the LPA’s), further adds to the confusion between which is
the regulatory authority in relation to town planning and which are the
applicants. The proposed strategic (MOL) development needs to be referred to
the Mayor, who is also given as a promoter of the application. Does this not
give rise to a conflict of interest? If the Mayor is party to the development
then is it not appropriate for the application to be referred directly to the
Secretary of State?
46.The LPA should
prepare a leaflet of equal quality and distribute this to the same number of
addresses in order to remedy any misdirection and to correct, qualify or
counter balance potentially misleading statements.
submitted information does not clearly present the nature of the incremental
changes that have been carried out, nor does it give the reasons for these changes.
48.The LPA should
re-register the application and re-run the entire consultation process if it is
to avoid the risk of legal challenge on a number of fronts: The concerns in
relation to the ODA leaflet; the absence of a local authority consultation
process of equal quality and reach; concerns in relation to the earlier
consultation processes; incremental but material alterations to the scheme;
changes to the application boundary (the red line); additional and altered
supporting statements which no longer correspond with one another and which
contain different scheme drawings.
further concerns and queries
49.The revised material does
address the basis of our objection that remain, but we will not repeat here.
continue to mistakenly assert that the wider sport legacy benefits of the
Olympics are a material consideration in this application. These benefits are
not dependent upon or triggered by the development of the Marsh and do not
relate to or mitigate the open space, visual and ecological impacts of the
proposed development. The wider Olympic legacy is not material and should not
be given weight.
gives a false impression of the date on which the Marsh will be returned to
normal use with full public access. The proposal to re-seed the re-laid topsoil
in late October (or later) will mean that the Marsh may need to continue to be
fenced off until the grass is fully established; which, in winter, may be many
continues to show extensive undefined and undeveloped areas within the boundary
fence line. What are the purposes of these areas? Will they be used for
temporary installations of less than 28 days duration and therefore not needing
separate permission during the Games? These uses and activities, if they are
planned, should be fully described and controlled as a part of this
53.What were the drawing
changes requested by the LPA and referred to in the Arup letter? Where is the
record of this request?
In conclusion and, above all, the subsequent material amendments to the proposed scheme for Leyton
marsh clearly trigger the need for the Waltham Forest to re-consult prior to
this being considered by the planning committee.
On 18 January, ARUP, on behalf of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) wrote to LB of Waltham Forest outlining its response to the objections raised by us and others about the Leyton Marsh planning application. It also made material amendments to the proposed scheme: ODA response to objections & changes to appln. One of the key new documents is the Ecology Report : Ecology report on proposed Olympic devt on Leyton Marsh. The letter also referred to a number of new drawings - but none of these are currently on Waltham Forest's planning portal.
We have written to Waltham Forest stating we believe these changes must trigger the need
for the Waltham Forest (not just the ODA) to
re-consult (new site notices; writing to all those who have commented
already; making the revised material available; giving two to three
weeks for people to respond (and delaying the committee date, currently planned for early February, as a
We are also extremely concerned that, on Friday, the Olympic Delivery Authority sent local residents a leaflet that has potentially undermined and compromised the integrity of the consultation on the application. This follows from earlier concern regarding the pre-application scheme differing from the submitted scheme and the consultation extending over the Christmas period and the newly submitted information that does not clearly present the nature of the changes which have been carried out or the reasons for these changes.
The leaflet misdirects the public and undermines the integrity of the consultation on the planning application. The ODA has no status as ‘Authority’ or in relation to “Planning’ for the Marsh, as the leaflet claims.
Comments on the application may be mistakenly addressed to the ODA, or even the ‘Construction Hotline’ on the advice in the leaflet, rather than Waltham Forest (the planning authority).
We will be sending our full response to Waltham Forest on the revised scheme in the next couple of days and will post here.
The application to build the Olympic training basketball courts on leyton marsh includes no accurate pictures showing the scale of it and and the impact it would have on the marsh if planning permission is given. We have therefore produced a series of pictures to give you a better idea of its excessive scale.