Olympic Land Grab Thwarted

Mark mark at tlio.org.uk
Thu Feb 8 18:11:15 GMT 2007

Waltham Forest Council reject London Development Agencies plans to use
common land to relocate allotments from within the proposed Olympic park


Wednesday evening brought bad news for the London Development Agency who’s
bid to acquire land related to the Olympics was turned down by planners at
Waltham Forest Town Hall. The LDA was applying for planning permission for
allotments on Marsh Lane Fields where they want to relocate the existing
Manor Gardens allotments, currently located within the proposed Olympic

Local residents and the LDA were allowed three minutes to argue their
case. Members of the public talked passionately against the loss of their
open space, which they describe as a piece of the countryside in London.
The LDA was somewhat less convincing, when they tried to sell the loss of
this open space on the back of the supposed advantages of the Olympics in

Users of the existing Manor Gardens Allotments do not want to leave their
site. It is a beautiful place with a real sense of community. They have
been campaigning and organising to save their land. Much of the land the
LDA wishes to secure for the Olympics has a rich history. Manor Gardens
was given by Major Villiers, a friend of Winston Churchill, to be used “in
perpetuity” as gardens by local people. The Gardens’ proposed relocation
site at Marsh Lane Fields is what is known as Lammas Land, and is in
theory protected as metropolitan open space.

Hackney Marshes are also former Lammas Lands. These were meadows on which
parishioners have the right to graze cattle. These rights date back to
before the Norman Conquest, and possibly pre date the Roman era. Locals at
Marsh Lane Fields use these rights to graze their horses. The LDA’s plans
to take various other open spaces including part of Hackney Marshes for a
car park serving the Olympics are likely to face legal challenges due to
this status.

Within and surrounding the proposed Olympic park are many areas that have
been off the developers’ radar and have consequently grown organically to
develop their own flavour and authenticity. An authenticity rarely found
in London, both the sites affected by last night’s planning decision are
examples of this. Rare places in London where money doesn’t have to be
spent for recreation, their character is not contrived or there for
anyone’s profit. Somehow romantic places where people graze horses, dig
their veg, or just hang out and chat over roasting chestnuts. Consequently
determined campaigns are

running to save places under threat from what many see the Disneyization
proposed by Olympic planners. How the squeaky clean Olympic brand identity
can sit with the authenticity of the existing area is an interesting
question. How for example will junk yards on the periphery of the Olympic
Park square with the image of London 2012.

After yesterday’s victory Waltham Forest’s debating chamber echoed with
the sound of cheering as locals. However as Rosemary Johnson, who gave
evidence against last night’s proposal, says 
 “the LDA will be back”
meaning they will most likely mount an appeal, and so the battle for Manor
Gardens Allotments and Marsh Lane Fields is far from over. It is however a
least a serious delay for the LDA who are under enormous pressure as the
clock ticks relentlessly towards 2012. It is one of many battles the LDA
will face, with many who remain unimpressed by the Olympics.

I am sorry everyone but this article has taken a lot of work and so 

though please feel free to copy the story for not for profit purposes but
profit making companies will have to pay me for it. Hence photos and text

Copyright Mike Wells

Thursday 8th Feb 2007
tel 07799152888
Contact:  mikejwells at yahoo.com

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