Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bridge upgrade

The walkway underneath Lea Bridge Road will be closed from Monday 28th March for 6 weeks (i.e. till 6 May) so that British Waterways can replace it. British Waterways will be putting up signs pointing to the nearest safe crossings further up and down Lea Bridge Road.

The new walkway is the same width, but the handrail will be repositioned outwards so that the full width of the walkway is available. There will be LED lighting in the handrails, facing downwards so as not to deter bats. We imagine the slippery-when-wet metal surface will be improved too.

We've taken the opportunity to ask whether the long-broken handrail on the towpath at south Millfields will be fixed as well. British Waterways will be repairing this 'in the next few months'.

BW 020 7985 7200.
Ben Kennedy, LBH Senior Transport Planner 020 8356 8023
Please cc MUG (& involve us if it's helpful)

Essex Wharf: Eric Pickles turns his back

(continued from 9 March)

You'll remember that after LB Waltham Forest passed the third development proposal for Essex Wharf in January, the Lee Valley park authority tried to force a public enquiry. The mechanism for this is to ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) to call the application in.

We've now heard that the Department for Communities and Local Government has decided not to call the application in.

The decision and covering letter are on the LVF website, with a press release from the Lea Valley Federation and a statement from Leabridge Ward Councillors.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Group Meeting Mon 11 April

We've organised the next Group meeting for the evening of Mon 11 April, probably 7.30 at the Nye Bevan Tenants Hall.

We hope the group will discuss the biodiversity proposals, postponed from the AGM because the original speaker was ill and the meeting over-ran. The survey is here*. The implementation proposals are being redrafted and we'll post them as soon as we can.

If there is something you'd like the group to discuss, please post a comment here, below. (You can also email , who will post your email on the blog, but it's quicker if you do it yourself, and easier on the sec.) Please do say who you are, if you want the group to take account of your comment: this page is open to any internet user and we need to know that you aren't posting from Paddington or Pasadena.

More soon, and we'll update this posting as the agenda gets pulled together, but we just wanted to get this in your diary and ask for your ideas.

*The survey link is to the council website. If you have any problem downloading it, please email and I'll chase it up.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Open up the Lower Lea Marshes

We currently have a crucial chance to influence the future of our part of the Lee Valley Park. The Park Authority (LVRPA) has published proposals for its Park Plan which will set the agenda for the next 10­-15 years. The Lea Valley Federation, a coalition of local groups which MUG is part of, is organising a broad public response.

To hear and discuss the Lea Valley Federation's ideas, please come to a public meeting at the Round Chapel School Rooms on Tuesday 15th March at 7.30 pm.
You can see the authority's proposals this Friday (11 March, 2-7.30) and Saturday (12th, 10-2) at the Waterworks Centre. (If you want a more pleasant walk than the Lea Bridge Road, use the back entrance which is a turn off the path just north/west of Friends Bridge.) This is about what they are calling the Lea Bridge Road area, between Coppermill Lane in the north and Ruckholt Road in the south. They are consulting until 29 March.

The Lea Valley Federation wants to persuade the Park to look at how split up and fenced off many areas are, sometimes simply because the land is owned by varying authorities. There could be many more paths and connections. It could be possible to let people walk into the reservoirs from the south, or along the overflow channel, which could provide an off-road access to the Waterworks from the north. Instead of seeing the Lea Bridge Road as a place to build a cheap hotel, the Park could look at how to connect Hackney, Leyton and Walthamstow marshes for walkers. In particular, the old British Waterways site facing the Princess of Wales could be made into parkland -- a counterweight to any buildings that eventually go up on Essex Wharf.

Millfields is officially part of the Regional Park, under the act of parliament which set it up, and though it's not managed by the park authority, what happens just across the river is important for our park. The more open the land is, the more chance we have to defend it against future enclosures and encroachments. LVF has done a great job gingering up the park authority to do its job properly, so please do come, find out what's going on, and lend your voice.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Essex Wharf: developers lose round 2

Back at the very start of January, a good many of us turned out on a cold night at Waltham Forest Town Hall to oppose the proposed building development on Essex Wharf. (Essex Wharf is the currently empty industrial site across the Lea from north Millfields.) That was the developers' third proposal, reworked from their second. At the time, their second proposal was about to come up for appeal before a planning inspector, having been refused by the council. MUG made a submission to the appeal.

Well, the good news is that the inspector has turned the appeal down. He thought that the design was too big and solid to dump in the middle of the continuous metropolitan open space formed by Millfields and the Marshes:
“cumulatively, the siting, bulk, orientation and height of the proposed development would significantly impede intervisibility and the perception of the open space in the marshes and Millfields on either side.”
He also thought the side facing eastwards was too ugly and boring for the site:
”The east elevation as a whole would be typical of many other ordinary utilitarian developments that can be found in many places that do not have the special qualities or prominent visibility that this site possesses.”
He listed six different ways in which the proposal breaks policies laid down in Waltham Forest's Unitary Development Plan.

To our dismay, Waltham Forest Council accepted the third proposal on 4 January. The last line of defence is now the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority, which has referred the decision to the secretary of state. We are waiting to see what happens next.

You can see more at the Lea Valley Federation website. MUG is one of the LVF organisations.

You should be able to read the inspector's report here.