Lea Marshes   Basketball project

Rotten Boroughs   
Rotten Boroughs in Private Eye, May 15, 2012.
MEANWHILE the mayor's office says it is satisfied that Waltham Forest Council (WF) made the proper decision to allow the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to concrete-over "green flag" awarded land in a last minute cover planning proposal--despite it breaching Boris's own "London Plan" and unearthing hazardous materials.

In February WF approved a late planning application by the ODA for a temporary 11-metre high basketball training facility on protected Leyton Marshes, despite receiving more than 1,000 objections. WF justified the decision, which also breaks many of WF's planning rules, as "special circumstances".

The Labour council appears to have been duped by the ODA's gradual planning "amendments", which eased their way round tiresome regulations intended to protect the environment. The ODA's environmental impact assessment (EIA) screening application stated that only 5cm of topsoil would be removed. Two weeks later its planning.
See earlier Private Eye story about camp site at Low Hall Fields.

application stated 15cm. After WF ranted permission a "non-material amendment" increased the depth to 60cm. The ODA's own engineering reports conveniently excluded from the planning application, showed that at least 50cm needed to be excavated for concrete foundations.

So why were those figures excluded? Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that, during the Second World War, Leyton Marshes was a land-fill site for bombed factory debris, later covered with topsoil. The ODA's ground investigation report also excluded from its planning proposal, showed that the Blitz material under the topsoil contained hazardous chemicals. Had the ODA's proposal originally stated 50cm-- a depth sufficient to disturb contaminated material-- a full EUA may have been required, no doubt resulting in delays or, worse, rejection of the scheme.

WF said it is "not concerned about the depth of material removed". So how did it respond when workers unearthed dangerous levels of asbestos-riddled concrete and an unexploded bomb? "The chemical contaminants in the soil do not have a pathway to the final users of the venue," said the council. So that's all right, then.