Diggers and concrete mixers were silenced yesterday when Occupy protesters disrupted work on a multi-million pound Olympic site on the borders of Hackney and Walthamstow.
Around twenty Occupy protesters pitched tents to stop work on the development of the temporary 12metre high basketball practice facility on Leyton Marshes, which is used by many local people.
A banner, erected amidst lit fires, proclaimed: “This is just the beginning.”
The development has already attracted protests from local communities angry at the erosion of green open space and concerned that it lead to a permanent development on the site. An online petition, ‘Don’t be harsh, protect our marsh!’ has attracted 101 signatures.
The protest, led by the same Occupy group who recently camped at St. Paul’s Cathedral, comes as Olympics officials undertake the last inspection ahead of the Games this summer.
The move increased speculation as to whether the Olympic Park itself might be be the next target, since the Occupy protesters have indicated their intent stage further occupations of spaces.
Dan Ashman, an Occupy protestor who made the trip from the group’s Finsbury Square base, said that they were there to help residents.
He said: “Our aim is to leave when the residents are satisfied that they have all the assurances that this site will be returned to the way they want it after the Olympics.”
The petition states local concerns that the decision to build on Metropolitan Open Land will “set a precedent”, making it easier in future for developers to successfully seek permission to build further, damaging the natural beauty of the area.
Ashman added: “They suspect this may be a precursor to development of the park – there has even been a suggestion that a developer wants to build flats here.”
A spokesman for the Olympic Delivery Authority said that the temporary structure was required due to a lack of venues suitable for Paralympic basketball athletes within the required distance of the Olympic Park.
The Authority said they plan to remove the building within a month after the completion of the Games and to restore the land to its original state.
By Antonia Hawken