|Reinstatement of Porters Field |
| It was a strange way to prove that the Waltham Forest (LBWF) Planning Committee is not controlled by the Whip of the Labour Group. Lea Bridge Ward Councillor Afzal Akram, said he was there as a ward councillor and not as Chief Whip, because the planning committee did not come under the Whip. Members had a free vote.
Yet when it came to the vote the result was unanimity. So everyone votes together if there's a whip and everyone votes together if there isn't a whip?
What they voted for, was the officer's recommendations. And what were they? A pig in a poke! The officers would sort out the fine detail and apart from the fact that the committee decided that the expensive turf would be used (which had already been specially grown for the project), it didn't really decide anything.
Well, that's not entirely true. It also decided to ignore what it was told about the soil being used to replace the hole that's going to be left when the practice basketball finally disappears.
Firstly, they were told that ODA (the Olympic Delivery Authority) had already started moving the soil, jumping the gun by assuming the result of the LBWF planning committee.
Secondly, they were told that the PH of the replacement soil was so high that it was the equivalent of bleach. This seems difficult to believe, but the planning committee did not find the claim difficult to ignore.
Abigail Woodman, who said it had taken a lot of courage for her to get up at the planning committee, told members "The reinstatement plan originally submitted said that all type 1 fill would be removed yet the revised plan says it will be re-laid and supplemented by type 6F2 fill
"Regardless of whether or not it is relaid on top anyway the type 1 fill is wholly unsuitable for this environmentally sensitive location.
"The test results show that the solid material has a PH of 12 and the leachate a PH of 11.2. This is similar to domestic bleach.
"In comparison the leachate PH in excavated soil was 7.6 which is only mildly alkaline. As for the type 6F2 fill that has an entirely different chemical make up from the soil removed and would be unable to support organisms such as worms.
"We must ask for a natural PH material to be used instead. The type 6F2 fill proposed is incompatible with the requirement, condition one, that the site was reinstated to its original state prior to the grant of permission."
See soil report.
Chair Cllr Peter Barnett, describing himself as chairman, sitting underneath a picture of the Queen and with a Union Jack unfurled and flying wildly outside the building, said: "I was sitting here on the first application. We wouldn't normally have given planning permission for any structures on Metropolitan Open Land. But it was, as we've heard it explained to us, an exceptional circumstance, so we accepted that argument and we gave planning permission.
"When we did so I think, very strongly, every member of the committee felt that we wanted it removed and gone and re-instated as it was by the 15th of October.
"And I think we are on track for that. Everything I've been told, I've been told by the officers and they are in negotiation with the relevant parties to establish the best way forward, whatever you put the membrane at, and I'm not really going to get into the technical detail of that so I'm happy for officers do that.
"I think we are being asked to take a principled decision that officers go away to do that."
It makes you wonder what the point of the meeting was?
(Sept 12, 2012)
Here is part of what Claire Weiss said at the Waltham Forest Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday:
" Chair I wish to inform you and the Committee urgently that the Applicant’s contractors have today already started implementing the proposed Reinstatement Plan, prior to your agreement to it. Mass deliveries of infill material have already arrived at Porters Field, even though the nature of it has not yet been approved by this Committee. I urge you to reject this Proposed Reinstatement Plan and seek a report about the reinstatement work already being implemented.
" Chair I am bringing other significant objections to the attention of the Planning Committee as I believe that the Proposal before you is inadequate in coverage. It fails to give you the full background as to why these reinstatement works are so complex. It fails to highlight the massive excavation problems encountered and fails to identify those responsible. The Committee is therefore unable to have a comprehensive grasp of the situation prior to making this important decision about the future of a precious green open space in the borough."
Claire Weiss adds:" The lack of awareness by the councillors was even poorer than I had anticipated. As other friends have indicated, they could hardly frame any suitable questions, and the officers gave scant replies. I also referred the Chair to Leicestershire practice where applicants for permission to quarry gravel are required to submit reinstatement plans WITH the original proposals to excavate - this enables the whole process to be considered by committees. It seems to me that Waltham Forest, through the appalling and hasty decision to allow building on the marsh, now finds itself in unknown territory. The crucial points made by Abi about the nature of the infill material were unanswered. I support further pressure now on LVRPA and the LBWF officers - to whom the Committee delegated responsibility to see that the land is reinstated according to plan."