Locals lose Leyton Marsh to Olympic training venue

Despite the efforts of local residents, there will be a basketball training venue built on Leyton Marsh pic: Ruth Edwards

Local residents have lost their battle with the Olympic Development Agency to stop the building of a basketball-training venue on Leyton Marsh.

On Tuesday the Waltham Forest Council planning committee voted in favour of the proposal, which means two 11-metre high court buildings as well as a drop off area, car park and a perimeter fence will be built on the land.

Last week EastLondonLines reported on a protest by Hackney locals whose borough boundary is marked by the edge of the marsh.

Residents claim the venue will deprive locals of cherished green spaces and could cause harm to local wildlife.  More than 80 people protested before the meeting on Tuesday night.

Councillor Ian Rathbone, who is against the venue, condemned the ODA’s “bully boy tactics” and also criticised the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority saying they were the “other villain in this piece”.

He said: “How dare they give away pieces of our land without proper full consultation.”

Leyton Marsh is deemed Metropolitan Open Land and as a result should not be built upon unless it complies with legal conditions. The ODA has justified its plans to build there due to the “very special circumstances” and one-off nature of the Games.

Local resident Virginia Draper, 28, who is in opposition to the plans said: “We are all extremely unhappy with the decision that was made yesterday evening. We do not agree that Metropolitan Open Land should be forsaken due to bad planning from the ODA.”

The ODA chose Leyton Marsh as the site for basketball venue after a previous choice had been deemed unsuitable for wheelchair access and therefore would not be able to be used by the wheelchair basketball teams competing in the Paralympics.

A spokesperson for the ODA said: “The ODA has worked hard to ensure public access is largely unaffected. We have done this alongside the landowner so that there is minimal impact caused to the area.”

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