Lea Marshes

Setting the Scene

The key feature of Section Seven is the green character and openness of the valley which exists in sharp contrast to the surrounding urban and industrial environment. The open spaces are
a substantial size and for the most part, they form a continuous inter-related open area for leisure and recreation. The area is well used and busy with diverse recreational activities, indoor and outdoor sports, events and general enjoyment of the wildlife interest. The waterways of the Lee Navigation and the River Lea, enhance the leisure and wildlife spaces and provide further opportunity for water sports, habitat creation and informal recreation.

Key Resources and Special Features

This Section incorporates an impressive range of open spaces and high quality habitats. The valuable Walthamstow Marsh for example, which has survived without destruction by land fill or conversion to playing fields, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and nature reserve with both ecological and heritage interest. The association of this natural open space with the mature parkland at Springfield Park, the Lee Navigation and Springfield Marina, which are all of good quality visually, help to give the northern part of this area its well-defined and positive character. The openness continues through to the south of the Section where the green recreational spaces at the Lee Valley Cycle Circuit, Bully Point and Bully Fen are protected for their nature conservation value. The waterways are also recognised as key wildlife habitats and as green corridors between sites. In the south, the towpaths alongside the waterways form linear extensions to the Regional Park. They provide links through to the adjoining built up areas and create access routes into the Park. Nature conservation resources and industrial heritage interests combine at the Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve and within the Essex Filter Beds site, with remnants of the water industry and wetland habitats providing themes around which to base visitor attractions and innovative nature conservation sites. Besides Springfield Park, there are several other parks that contribute to the open space resource of the Regional Park, including St James' Park and North and South Millfields Recreation Ground. Mature trees at these locations and along Lea Bridge Road all help to create a pleasant green character. The open spaces of the Low Hall playing fields and the nature conservation interest at the Low Hall Flood Meadow are a valuable addition to the open and green character of the Park, although these areas require enhancement and further integration with the rest of this Section. Further south, the predominant land use within the Regional Park is the vast, flat, open area of Hackney Marsh, comprised of numerous sports pitches. Embraced by the River Lea to the east and the Lee Navigation along the western edge, with lines and belts of mature poplar trees, the surrounding industrial and urban development is well screened from the central areas of the Marsh. The taller buildings of the City can be viewed in the distance. Construction of the A12 to M11 link road has had a major impact on the southern reaches of the Marsh, separating a number of smaller parcels of open space from the main area. Further landscape enhancement of Hackney Marsh, drawing on the intimate and attractive areas that exist along the periphery is needed. This would consolidate the importance of this huge green space within such an urban environment and its role in providing for both sporting activity and casual recreation.
Park Plan map: Clapton to Stratford Numbers refer to proposals in this document
Opportunities for Visitor Enjoyment

The major part of Section Seven is freely open for public recreation and this forms the predominant land use throughout. Most of the resources serve regional catchments and the open spaces and the built facilities cater for and are used intensively for a variety of activities from, for example, ice skating to competitive cycling, and team sports to nature study and walking. There are a number of leisure centres, such as the Lee Valley Riding Centre and Lee Valley Ice Centre at Lea Bridge Road and the Lee Valley Sports Centre at Eastway. Other specialist leisure facilities exist at Hackney Stadium and the Lee Valley Cycle Circuit. Facilities at Springhill and Springfield Marina provide for water sports and recreation. Golf is available at the Lee Valley 18 Hole Par 3 Golf Course near Lea Bridge Road. Between the open spaces and sports fields at Low Hall and Springhill, are the rich wetland, marsh and grassland habitats of Walthamstow Marsh Nature Reserve which is managed to encourage access to and enjoyment of the wildlife. Informal recreation is also accommodated at Hackney Marsh as well as its intensive use for outdoor sports. Educational activities also occur within the area making use of the nature conservation, water and open space resources.

Visitor facilities are available mainly on the periphery of the Regional Park, in the form of local pubs and waterside cafes. Local and regional events are held at the leisure centres and on the open spaces. A small permanent camp site at Eastway Cycle Circuit and
a temporary one on Hackney Marsh provide budget accommodation within the Regional Park. Proposals identify opportunities for new visitor facilities at Lea Bridge Road associated with the regeneration and enhancement of the Essex Filter Beds as a nature reserve. Further facilities are needed however, especially given the extent of this Section. Under-used land, vacant sites and areas in non compatible use could provide the opportunities in the future. Development at Stratford associated with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link should create the impetus for new leisure facilities, including hotels. Although outside the Regional Park, such development could benefit visitor enjoyment of the open spaces and recreational sites. There is reasonable access into the Regional Park from its western edge with pedestrian, cycle and bus routes along Lea Bridge Road and with various direct connections to the local community and the benefit of north-south links along the Lee Navigation towpath. From the east, access for pedestrians and cyclists is more limited. Improvements are taking place throughout the Section and Proposals seek to identify measures such as new bridges, the provision of safe road crossings and cycle lane provision. Clapton Station, Hackney Wick Station and Stratford Station, although just outside the Park, do offer the potential to reach the Park by rail. Buses also pass through although their services are often not the most convenient for leisure users. In the future, development of an International Passenger Station at nearby Stratford offers scope to both improve and promote access on a large integrated scale with potential to create a new gateway into the Regional Park.


Proposals aim to protect the openness of Section Seven and the huge and varied recreational resource this represents. They aim to improve the quality of the landscape and existing facilities in order to combat the intrusion of large-scale industrial uses which lie adjacent to the Regional Park. Wider use of recreational facilities and spaces is a key objective and this Section can accommodate a high level of use and offer a wide variety of choice. Proposals aim to achieve this wider variety and greater visitor numbers through interpretation, refurbishment of built facilities, events, improvements to signage and access and through the development of new visitor centres and facilities where this can be achieved without intruding upon the openness of the valley.

7 Area providing for a high capacity of recreational and sporting use based on extensive open spaces and built leisure facilities with outstanding ecological and heritage resources available for visitor enjoyment. In addition to the Strategic Proposals LVRP1-4 and Parkwide Proposals, specific Sectionwide Proposals which contribute to the achievement of the Vision for the Regional Park are:
a The recreational and sporting use of open spaces and parkland to be protected and encouraged.
b The quality of established facilities for sport and leisure to be improved and modernised. Redevelopment of built leisure facilities to use the existing footprint, so as to maintain the open character of the area.
c The openness and green character of the recreational spaces and local parks to be protected with vacant sites incorporated into the wider landscape enhancement of the area and brought into recreational use.
d Geological and historical features of special interest within the landscape to be conserved and interpreted and views to key landmarks within and outside the Regional Park protected.
e Pedestrian and cycle access to be enhanced through
** the improvement of links between the Regional Park and public transport nodes;
** the implementation of the Lee Valley Line Proposal;
** the co-ordination and improvement of public transport to ensure safe and regular services to and from leisure sites and facilities; and
** the creation of stronger visual and physical links between sites and the provision of clearly signposted entry points into the Regional Park from the west and the east.
f The effect of railway embankments that cross the Regional Park to be softened through landscape works whilst ensuring views out across the Park are maintained.
g The adverse impact of major highways through and alongside the Regional Park to be reduced through
** traffic controls and traffic calming;
** appropriate planting and maintenance of green road frontages;
** maintenance of views into the Regional Park; and
** development of safe crossing points and physical linkages between sites on either side of the road.
h Encouragement to be given to landowners of industrial buildings which abut and lie within the Regional Park, to improve landscape and boundary treatments, maintain buildings and other structures and ensure all activity is contained within their sites, so that they make a positive contribution to the image of the Park.
i The upkeep and appearance of pockets of residential development within the Regional Park to be maintained to
a high standard.
j Major redevelopment within the Stratford Rail Lands to the east of the Regional Park to be planned and implemented so as to achieve an increase in the extent of the open green space of the valley, the creation of new pedestrian and cycle links which connect into the Park, and the provision of complementary leisure and visitor services of high quality and design.

Park Plan Part One policies provide guidance on the implementation of proposals in this Section, in particular: L1.1-L4.4, LS1.2-LS5.5, NC2.1-NC2.6, W2.1-W4.1, CHR1.2-CHR2.1, WR2.3, IR2.1, IR2.2, IR2.4-IR2.11, FR1.3-FR3.1, CH2.3-CH3.2, T1.1-T6.3.

Proposals have an indicative status where they refer to land outside the Park, in particular land forming part of the Stratford Rail Lands.

Within Section Seven, there is a wide range of built leisure facilities, open spaces and nature conservation sites. These are used and enjoyed by large numbers of people and accommodate a high capacity or intensive level of recreational and leisure activity. The ability of these facilities and open spaces to support intensive use should be both protected and developed and their contribution to the continuity of the Green Chain should be maintained and enhanced.

Outdoor sporting and recreational facilities and their green setting are to be safeguarded on the western and eastern edges of the Regional Park (Proposals 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3). The more complex range of outdoor activities, built leisure and ecological sites to the north and south of Lea Bridge Road are to be enhanced and promoted as an integrated area for intensive recreational activity and nature conservation interest (Proposal 7.4). Sporting activity on Hackney Marsh is to be protected (Proposal 7.5) whilst proposals to upgrade or redevelop existing built sites to create sporting or leisure facilities of regional significance are identified within the southern parts of this Section (Proposal 7.6).

Throughout the area the Parkwide proposals of the Landscape Strategy (Proposal LS), the Water Management Strategy (Proposal WMS), the Waterway Corridor (Proposal WC7), the Lee Valley Pathway (Proposal PW7) and the Lee Valley Line (Proposal LVL) are applied.

It is important that the open space and green structure of the landscape is maintained to a high quality to protect the recreational resource and opportunities available. Parcels of vacant or underused land give a neglected feel to the area and need to be brought into a Park compatible use as soon as possible. To the north and west the mature parkland landscape of Springfield, the Lee Navigation, Millfields and the natural qualities of Walthamstow Marsh present a well defined and positive character. This needs to be extended eastwards and further south where industrial activities adjacent to and within the Park are more intrusive, the Park is more fragmented, and the pattern of land use is more complex.

Playing fields within the central part of this Section, Site 7.4, have been converted to recreational open spaces to balance the extensive playing field provision within Sites 7.5 and 7.6. Proposal 5.3 also provides for active outdoor sport (within Folly Lane Triangle) where existing sports pitches should be restored.

Pedestrian access into the area needs to be greatly improved. Physical links between different recreational venues need to be increased to create a stronger image of the Regional Park. The aim is to project the Park as a wider entity than the many individual sites.

The visual and aural intrusion of the busy roads and the railways requires a clear response in terms of landscape to provide at least visual screening and psychological separation. This would enhance the quality of refuge that the Park provides and appropriate planting would create clear legible green corridors and greater structure to the landscape. Busy roads such as Lea Bridge Road, which is one of the main east west crossings of the Park, and the area around the new A12 to M11 link road have especial need in this respect. The whole environment of roads through the Park should be addressed in partnership with local planning and highway authorities, to create green corridors with clearly signed entrances, improved crossing points for pedestrians and measures to slow down traffic.

A Combined International and Domestic Passenger Station is to be located at Stratford as part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Large scale redevelopment and change is proposed in association with the Station within an area known as the Stratford Rail Lands, the majority of which lies outside the Park, but also includes land at Eastway, Site 7.6. The open space and ecological value of the Park area will need to be protected throughout any development process. Opportunities for new leisure, improved access and enhanced environment need to be pursued to demonstrate a balanced and sustainable approach to economic and environmental regeneration. Other infrastructure improvements, such as the Chelsea Hackney Line, may also have implications for sites within the southern part of Section Seven.

The Health and Safety Executive advise that account must be taken in the implementation of Proposals PW7, 7.2, and 7.4 of the constraints arising from the location of notifiable installations, both within and adjacent to the Park.
WC7 Waterway Corridor including Hertford Union Canal

In addition to Park-wide Proposal WC:
a Visitor facilities on or adjacent to the towpath at Springfield Park, Springfield Marina, Lea Bridge Road and Old Ford Lock, to be enhanced and promoted as focal points along the corridor.
b An attractive and sensitively designed waterside leisure facility at Essex and Eastwood Wharf to be developed as a new focal point and visitor attraction with the decontamination and opening up of the infilled oxbow immediately to the north to create a new waterside location for recreational use.
c The upgrading and modernisation of recreational and water based facilities at Springhill and Leaside to be supported where these increase the level of participation and where they are sensitively designed and located to minimise impact on the landscape and ecological interest of the area.
d Water quality to be improved to meet standards for immersion water sports and sources of water pollution addressed.
e The ecological interest of Horseshoe Island at Springfield Marina to be managed to complement the nature conservation value of the Waterway Corridor and adjoining sites to the east and south.
f Footpath and cycle route connections with the Corridor to be provided especially from outside the Regional Park and from public transport nodes such as Hackney Wick Station and Clapton Station. Existing links and bridge crossings to be upgraded and pedestrian and cycle access along the towpath safeguarded.
g Existing green edges alongside the waterways to be protected and enhanced and new green edges established as part of developments adjacent to the water.


WC7 Waterway Corridor including Hertford Union Canal

In the southern part of this Section the Regional Park boundary follows the towpath, adjacent to the Hertford Union Canal and Lee Navigation. Therefore the Waterway Corridor proposal has an indicative status on the waterway itself.

The waterways are the key connecting feature that reinforce the continuous nature of the Regional Park. Their ecological interest and informal recreational value should be protected and promoted. The character, environmental quality and visual amenity of the Waterway Corridor varies throughout Section Seven often due to the nature of the route itself and its associated features but also as a result of the impact of adjoining land uses, and the effect of rail and road crossings. Improvements to water quality, the waterside environment and towpath would help to strengthen the character of the corridor whilst the protection and enhancement of historic features and existing habitats would retain the individuality of each of its parts. The water routes are identified in the Biodiversity Action Plan as a key ecological resource.

More emphasis needs to be placed on the recreational potential of the waterways. Redevelopment of Essex and Eastwood Wharf, for example, would provide a key opportunity to establish water related recreational activities. Those facilities currently servicing the water-based activities need to be upgraded and co-ordinated and environmental improvements carried out to benefit the visual and ecological potential of the whole area.

Old Ford Nature Reserve, although outside the Park, is bounded by the Waterway Corridor and the River Lea as well as the Greenway (Proposal PW8) and forms an important ecological resource that relates to the Park. Opening up some form of managed access to the site would add interest for visitors travelling along the Waterway Corridor.

The Waterway Corridor is traversed by a number of road and rail links that have an adverse impact on the environment and on the leisure experience of visitors. Development alongside the Corridor also has a major impact, especially in the south where the concentration of industrial activity is greatest. This environmental degradation can only be combated through a combination of maintenance, landscape, design and ecological improvements and an insistence on the highest quality of design and build in new development.

PW7 Lee Valley Pathway Corridor

In addition to the Park-wide Proposal PW:
a In the north, Coppermills Fields to be enhanced and incorporated into the Corridor for informal recreation use.
b The route of the Lee Valley Pathway to be secured and provided as part of new development on land within and adjoining the Regional Park.
c Connecting paths to be established, especially from the residential and industrial areas in the east and from the Low Hall area. Key entrance points onto the route to be created at Coppermill Lane, Lea Bridge Road, Eastway and Carpenters Road.


PW7 Lee Valley Pathway Corridor

Certain sections of the existing Lee Valley Pathway require improvement and enhancement, for example through the Lee Valley Cycle Circuit and Bully Point Nature Reserve and alongside the River Lea at Stratford Marsh. At other points, major work is required to both design and implement a safe route due to obstacles such as road and rail routes and lack of space. Key opportunities exist to provide sections of the route within a corridor of enhanced environmental quality as part of major new developments on the Stratford Rail Lands and at Essex Filter Beds.

Coppermill Lane is a main connection from the residential areas to the east and can be linked into the route of the Lee Valley Pathway to provide pedestrian and cycle access into this Section. Other connecting paths and entrance points should be defined along the route.

The route of the Pathway along the Hertford Union Canal although short, offers an important link via other pathways into significant open spaces adjacent to the Park, such as Victoria Park and Mile End Park.

7.1 Area for recreation and outdoor sporting activity within an attractive landscape of ecological and geological importance with excellent views out across the Regional Park.

In addition to Sectionwide Proposals:
a The sporting and recreational use within this area to be protected and facilities maintained to a high standard.
b Pedestrian and cycle access into this area from the east and the west to be improved, especially at bridging points over the River Lea.
c The high landscape quality of this area to be conserved and enhanced and special geological and historical features protected. Views out across the Regional Park to be protected and the residential area along the northern boundary screened.
d The ecological value of Springfield Park to continue to be developed as an important urban wildlife habitat with full public access.

7.1 Area for recreation and outdoor sporting activity within an attractive landscape of ecological and geological importance with excellent views out across the Regional Park.

The group of facilities contained within this area offer a range of activities from recreation and team sports on Springhill Sports Ground and at Springfield Park, to water sports and recreation and informal pastimes such as walking, cycling, and nature study. The overall landscape quality is high and worthy of conservation. In particular, Springfield Park offers an attractive and accessible environment with a variety of open and recreational spaces. It is of both local and regional significance being designated as a Local Nature Reserve and a Regionally Important Geological Site. It provides an interesting and pleasant introduction to the Regional Park from the west, but pedestrian and cycle links through into the rest of the Regional Park need to be enhanced, with improved bridging points over the Lee Navigation.

7.2 Area for sporting and recreational activity with important open space and nature conservation interest.

In addition to Section wide Proposals:
a The open character and good quality sports and recreational facilities at St James' Park and Low Hall sports ground to be protected.
b The Low Hall Farm Flood Meadow to be safeguarded and managed as a nature reserve with controlled public access.

Other sites of ecological value and potential including Low Hall woodland, the Dagenham Brook corridor and land between the railway lines and Low Hall Sports Ground to be enhanced and managed with new pedestrian links established between and from these sites through to adjoining areas of nature conservation importance.
c Safe connecting routes for pedestrians and cyclists between sites, through adjoining industrial areas and into the rest of the Regional Park to the west to be developed and maintained. Links to heritage and ecological interests outside the Regional Park to be developed, to strengthen the wider leisure opportunities available in this area.
d Facilities at allotments to be maintained to a high standard and special attention focused on improving the edges of plots and boundaries shared with the Regional Park.
e The quality of the landscape throughout this area to be improved with particular attention focused on screening areas of housing and industry within and adjoining the Regional Park, in order to maximise the green edge to the Park and establish a buffer strip.
f The impact of new housing and industrial areas to be minimised through comprehensive environmental improvements.

7.2 Area for sporting and recreational activity with important open space and nature conservation interest.

The positive aspects of the individual sites such as the Low Hall woodland, the good quality sports facilities at St James' Park, and the ecological potential of the Low Hall Farm Flood Meadow and Dagenham Brook remain largely unrecognised in the wider context of the Regional Park and the area appears isolated. The elevated railway lines that cross the valley floor at Coppermills Junction form barriers to the rest of the Park. Adjoining industrial sites also intrude and have a negative impact upon the open spaces that remain.

Improvements to pedestrian access between the individual sites and into the Regional Park are essential as are comprehensive environmental improvements to upgrade the landscape and screen the non compatible developments. Public footpaths through and between the industrial sites need to be improved and clearly signed so that people feel safe and confident passing from one area of the Park to another. Visual and physical connections with heritage and ecological interests outside the Park would help to establish links with the wider community.

The allotments within the Regional Park offer an important outdoor recreational activity and should be retained as part of the urban green space and wildlife habitat of the Park.

7.3 Attractive, high quality parkland forming a green gateway into the Regional Park from the west.

In addition to Section-wide Proposals:
a The open, green space and high quality mature landscape of North and South Millfields to be conserved, and landscape features and new signage developed to create a gateway into the Regional Park, along Lea Bridge Road.
b Recreational use of the parkland to be safeguarded and any vacant land or redundant buildings brought into recreational use or cleared to form part of the open space.
c Pedestrian and cycle access into and through the area to be maintained, with improvements to access links into the Regional Park to the east.
d Negative features along the boundaries of the Regional Park and around the edges of individual sites to be screened and tidied up.


7.3 Attractive, high quality parkland forming a green gateway into the Regional Park from the west.

North and South Millfields create an attractive green and open space on the western edge of the Regional Park in contrast to the surrounding urban area, offering views over parkland combined with long views to the north-east towards the Lee Valley Ice Centre. Here is a key opportunity to create a well defined gateway which announces the Regional Park. On South Millfields there are pockets of residential development and sites in operational use by National Grid. The boundaries and edges of these sites need to be tidied up or screened where this will minimise their impact on the Park. Redundant buildings or under used land should be brought into leisure use or cleared for open space. Access into the area and through to the Park in the east needs to be improved and promoted.

7.4 Integrated area comprising intensive recreation, built leisure and key ecological sites protected for nature study and conservation with associated visitor facilities.

In addition to Section-wide Proposals:
a Established leisure facilities at the Ice Centre, Riding Centre and Par 3 Golf Course to be improved and upgraded and arts events and activities on the land adjoining to be supported, provided the openness of the valley is safeguarded.
b A nature reserve to be created at Essex Filter Beds, including
** the development of visitor facilities to serve both the Essex Filter Beds Nature Reserve and the adjoining Par 3 Golf Course,
** an improved entrance into the site from Lea Bridge Road creating a focal point which announces and raises the profile of the Regional Park, and
** habitat creation and enhancement on Essex Filter Beds, and the protection and interpretation of industrial heritage features.
c Development, enhancement and management of the ecological resource at Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve to complement ecological areas on the Essex Filter Beds.
d At Walthamstow Marsh
** the mix of floodplain grassland and fen and small open water areas to be restored, protected and maintained,
** the openness of the site to be safeguarded and areas just outside the Reserve to be managed to enhance their ecological potential,
** the history of the Marsh and special heritage features to be protected and promoted through interpretational guides, trails and physical links to other sites of heritage value, and
** measures to improve public access, for informal recreational, educational and heritage interest purposes to be developed further with links to and from the Lee Valley Pathway improved.
e Positive characteristics of the landscape, including the openness of the valley, its heritage features and ecological interest to be protected.
f Major improvements to the landscape quality as a whole to be implemented, especially to the south of Lea Bridge Road and adjacent to the industrial areas along the eastern edge of the Regional Park.
g Sites and buildings which are vacant or under used to be brought into beneficial use for leisure and recreation, especially where they will support recreational activities on adjoining land and contribute to visitor enjoyment. Major leisure or visitor developments on such sites to be considered in terms of their impact on the openness of the Regional Park, its ecological interest and the need to enhance landscape quality and views through to the rest of the Park.
h Footpaths that pass between sites and links with the towpath and the Lee Valley Pathway to be maintained and bridges providing access over the railways to be improved.


7.4 Integrated area comprising intensive recreation, built leisure and key ecological sites protected for nature study and conservation with associated visitor facilities.

This is an integrated area that combines a range of valuable recreational resources and established built leisure facilities. It offers the visitor a wide choice of recreational, leisure and nature conservation activity, all within close proximity and all set within a largely open and green environment. Activities such as horse riding, golf and ice skating are available along Lea Bridge Road, with key ecological sites, such as Walthamstow Marsh Nature Reserve and Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve located within short walking distance.

The Essex Filter Beds have potential to become an important visitor attraction and should be protected and developed as a nature reserve with a purpose built visitor facility. This facility can be designed and located to serve the adjoining golf course where there is potential to upgrade and reconfigure the course to improve play. The ecological and heritage interest of both the Essex and Middlesex Filter Bed sites are a valuable resource within the urban context of the wider London area; they offer both informal recreation and educational opportunities.

Walthamstow Marsh Nature Reserve and SSSI provides a rich mosaic of ancient grassland pasture, marsh and reed swamp and small open water areas of dykes and ponds. The adjacent water courses, Coppermill Stream and the River Lea are also ecologically valuable and provide additional aquatic and riparian habitat. Appropriate development and management of the Marsh should ensure the retention of the existing nature conservation and heritage interest of the site, enable increased diversity in the wildlife to be achieved, improve access and enjoyment for people and provide better educational facilities. The Marsh has a varied and diverse heritage from a reference in William the Conqueror's Doomsday Book of 1086, to the commemoration of the first all British powered flight by A. V. Roe in 1909. Work already undertaken to protect and interpret this rich past needs to be developed further with links through to other sites of heritage interest at Springfield Park and Coppermills.

Areas which remain vacant or under used could have an important role in supporting existing or creating new recreational facilities. The Thames Water Depot presents a major opportunity for leisure use, although part of the site is still operational. It holds a key position within this area in relation to the surrounding recreational and nature conservation interests and the open space network, and any future activity on site will need to be carefully considered within this Regional Park context.

Overall, this area has an open green character, although further screening is needed along the eastern and western edges to soften the impact of the adjoining industrial areas on the open valley floor. South of Lea Bridge Road, comprehensive environmental improvements will be required to create a stronger Park identity and more positive character.

Pedestrian and cycle routes throughout the area and linking into Lea Bridge Road should be enhanced and promoted. This is particularly relevant given the development of the Leyton Relief Road, outside but close to, the eastern boundary of the Park. This new road will create additional barriers to pedestrian and cycle access into the Park unless safe, attractive and vehicle free paths are provided. There should also be a concerted effort to reappraise the opening of Lea Bridge Station to offer a further public transport option.

7.5 Area of open space for intensive outdoor sporting use and informal recreational activities with opportunities for nature conservation based on the waterways and adjoining land.

In addition to Section-wide Proposals:
a Use of Hackney Marsh for intensive outdoor recreational and sporting activities to be safeguarded and associated facilities and services improved.
b The overall landscape quality and structure to be enhanced, with areas of existing high quality, adjacent to the waterways, conserved.
c The ecological interest of Hackney Marsh to be developed through habitat diversification and enhancement, with existing nature conservation value, such as areas adjacent to the waterways, protected and managed.
d Entry to the Regional Park from the west along Homerton Road to be highlighted through signage, appropriate enhancement works and the protection of views.


7.5 Area of open space for intensive outdoor sporting use and informal recreational activities with opportunities for nature conservation based on the waterways and adjoining land.

Hackney Marsh is a major expanse of open space within the southern part of the Regional Park and is used intensively for a variety of recreational activities and summer events. It also offers considerable ecological interest especially alongside the waterways, notably the meandering stretches of the River Lea. The continual development of these recreational activities needs to be encouraged, together with the conservation and enhancement of wildlife habitats. More active use of the waterways would contribute greatly to leisure opportunities in this area.

The landscape quality and structure of this area does however require enhancement and development, especially in the vicinity of the roads that cross the Marsh which create barriers to the continuity of the valley landscape and hinder access for pedestrians. Entrances into the Park should be highlighted. Improved visual connections, more crossing points and traffic calming measures could all be employed to reduce the adverse impact of these roads.

7.6 Area for leisure, regional sporting excellence and recreation with enhanced green links and open space available for outdoor sport, informal recreation and nature conservation.

In addition to Section-wide Proposals:
a Regional leisure and sports facilities to be provided through the redevelopment of existing sites and re-use of buildings at the Lee Valley Sports Centre and Hackney Stadium sites. Redevelopment to include
** high quality built facilities, designed and located carefully so as to protect the recreational environment and openness of adjacent open space;
** major landscape improvement and enhancement of the sites and layouts of facilities as an integral part of proposals so as to create visually attractive and distinctive facilities; and
** redevelopment of the Lee Valley Sports Centre to include a new high profile entrance into the Regional Park, incorporating plots of open land either side of the A12 to M11 link road.
b Facilities at the Lee Valley Cycle Circuit to be improved to support a range of cycling disciplines from performance to excellence levels. Safe public access to the site, especially from adjoining residential areas to be defined clearly through the provision of marked paths and identifiable entrance points.
c Elevated land to be used to create significant landmarks to assist in the orientation and the perceptual linking of facilities.
d The wildlife habitat at Bully Point Nature Reserve to be managed, especially the existing wet woodland resource and public access into the area clearly defined. An alternative entrance into the area, through the adjoining allotment site, to be considered.
e Major improvements to public transport and to public access via footpath and cycle routes to be undertaken to link together adjoining leisure sites, especially as part of new leisure and recreational development. In particular, a safe, segregated, pedestrian route into the Regional Park from Hackney Wick Station to be provided.
f The environmental quality of this area to be raised through
** maintaining and extending existing green space;
** strengthening the continuity of green links, especially those adjacent to the waterways; and
** comprehensive improvements to the visual appearance and environment of major roads such as Waterden Road.
g Vacant and under-used sites in the Regional Park adjacent to Waterden Road to be brought into leisure and recreational use in the longer term.
h The wildlife value of open space to be protected and managed as part of the urban habitat within the Regional Park. Pockets and verges of green space and small but highly visible sites which appear unused and have a negative impact on the Regional Park to be managed and maintained as green open space for wildlife and informal recreation.
i Special attention to be focused on improving allotments within the Regional Park and tidying up boundaries shared with sites in recreational use and of ecological value.


7.6 Area for leisure, regional sporting excellence and recreation with enhanced green links and open space available for outdoor sport, informal recreation and nature conservation.

There is great potential within this area to rejuvenate and redevelop existing leisure, sports and recreation sites on a comprehensive scale that would provide high quality and high profile regional facilities. This redevelopment should be undertaken in association with major environmental improvements throughout the area and the provision of integrated transport links into and between the sites. The regeneration of such leisure and sporting facilities could act as the catalyst for a much wider regeneration of the surrounding areas, bringing underused sites into leisure or recreation use, fostering environmental initiatives and generating new employment opportunities. Key opportunities exist at the Lee Valley Sports Centre, Lee Valley Cycle Circuit and the Hackney Stadium site to establish flagship leisure, sporting and recreational sites. These would complement leisure facilities further north within the Park, at Picketts Lock and Broxbourne, for example. Redevelopment of the Lee Valley Sports Centre would create the potential to provide a regional facility for sporting excellence or to establish new leisure and visitor facilities within the Park. Likewise, Hackney Stadium represents a key leisure resource. Situated on Waterden Road, it has been developed and used for intensive leisure activities of a regional scale for a number of years. Opportunities to bring this site back into intensive leisure or sporting use would help to create a focus to the southern part of this Section. Improvements could be gained through the redesign and refurbishment of existing built facilities, the screening of negative features and by making major investment to improve public transport, cycle and pedestrian routes.

The Lee Valley Cycle Circuit offers a range of facilities from casual cycling through to competitive cycling with events of national significance. The purpose built circuit is set within an area of open green space which is a particularly valuable recreational resource to visitors and adjoining communities, given the surrounding built up areas. Informal recreational use and access into the site needs to be managed so that conflict between cyclists and the general public is minimised and a safe environment created for all users. This area also has ecological value forming part of the Park's urban habitat resource. In addition, Bully Point Nature Reserve, which lies immediately to the south of the cycle circuit, contains a valuable area of wet woodland habitat that needs to be managed to ensure its value is conserved. Pockets of vacant and under used land exist within this area and appear to serve no particular purpose. These tend to have a negative impact on the Regional Park and undermine other improvements. Managed and maintained, these sites could contribute to the Park and form part of the wider green space.

Environmental enhancement should be an integral part of any redevelopment of leisure and sporting facilities in order to overcome the overall poor landscape quality in this area, and the visual and aural intrusion of adjoining industrial sites and major road crossings. These all serve to undermine the openness of the Regional Park and the leisure opportunities it presents.

The roads within and crossing the Park create barriers to access and have a negative impact on the green space. The A12 to M11 link road, for example, passes between and separates two key leisure facilities. Part of the solution to these issues lies in the redesign of sites and buildings to reduce the impact of roads, together with new entrances to sites, environmental improvements and the creation of a new gateway into the Park. Equally important is the creation of better linkages between sites and facilities both visually and physically. This would help to maintain the continuity of the Park and its function as a green lung within a highly urbanised environment. For example, safer pedestrian and cycle access across Waterden Road through to the Waterway Corridor in the west and the Pathway Corridor in the east could be achieved.<

7.7 Waterside green space for informal recreation with linear routes forming part of the regional cycle and footpath network and with environmental improvements to industrial sites and water corridors. In addition to Section-wide Proposals:
a Existing green open space on the eastern side of Stratford Marsh and along the waterside embankments to be protected, kept open, and brought into informal recreational use as part of the linear cycle and footpath network. Nature conservation interest within these spaces to be safeguarded.
b Environmental enhancement of routes along the waterways to be continued with the retention and interpretation of the special waterway character and identity of the area and the opening up of pedestrian and cycle access.
c Industrial sites and buildings to be brought into Regional Park-compatible use in the longer term.
d Major land use changes and development within the adjoining Stratford Rail Lands to complement the informal, open and waterside recreational spaces within the Regional Park, and provide opportunities for the provision of new leisure facilities, green spaces, habitat creation and activities involving the waterways.


7.7 Waterside green space for informal recreation with linear routes forming part of the regional cycle and footpath network and with environmental improvements to industrial sites and water corridors. Stratford Marsh is an important link in the network of linear routes and waterways which connect the Regional Park with the Thames. It has a very strong industrial context and is itself largely in industrial use, and yet at the same time is bounded by a number of important waterways and their embankments which have considerable ecological value. Green and open spaces exist within the Marsh area itself and there is potential to encourage landowners to improve the boundaries of their sites and for water quality to be upgraded.

In the longer term, the inclusion of this area in the Regional Park provides opportunities to influence land use resulting in the conversion of industrial sites and buildings into more Park compatible uses, with further environmental improvements.

The development of the Stratford Rail Lands would open up major opportunities for significant land use change and the creation of substantial green corridors adjacent to the waterways. In the shorter term, the intrusion of industrial development onto the remaining green space and any adverse impacts on the waterways need to be resisted, with improvements to landscape quality pursued at every possible juncture.