Friday, 27 May 2011

Lea Park may challenge Waltham Forest on Essex Wharf

(continued from 5 May, 26 March, 9 March)

36 people let us know that they signed the Essex Wharf petition after we emailed you at the end of last week. Maybe there were some others? - do let us know, it helps us organise. Two people also let us know that they wrote to Chris Kennedy - please copy us in if you also did.

Here's the upshot, courtesy of Lea Valley Federation:
LVRPA Executive meeting, Thursday 26th May 2011

On Thursday 26th May, The Executive of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) decided:

1 To write a "letter before action" to LB Waltham Forest in pursuit of Judicial Review of its decision to grant planning permission for high-rise residential development on Essex Wharf; the Council has to reply within 14 days.

Starting the procedure with this pre-application letter does not commit the Park Authority to going further with the application, but we understood that all decisions on the future process will be taken by the Executive Committee and will, therefore, be subject to further influence by the Lea Valley Federation.

2 To take no action to pursue Judicial Review against the Secretary of State's decision not to call in the matter as requested by the LVRPA.

The LVRPA officers' recommendation not to proceed with JR against either the Secretary of State or Waltham Forest was not accepted by Members of the Executive, who felt that their Counsel's assessment of the chances of success at 30-40% in the case of Waltham Forest justified opening the application process.

Laurie Elks of the Lea Valley Federation (LVF) was given time to put our views to the Executive; he made a powerful statement in favour of them not being limited by the officers' advice, before the decision was taken by the Members. Oliver Williams and David Rees of the LVF also attended the meeting, and Oliver presented the petition objecting to the Essex Wharf development at the outset of the meeting.

This must be seen as a great success for the persistence of the LVF, and of the 336 people who signed Cam Matheson's petition, in fighting on against what we all know would be a disastrous development for the Lee Valley Park.

The acting Chairman thanked us for our contribution to their decision-making process and explicitly for the petition which had been submitted.

So there is another chance to examine the reasoning behind LBWF's decision to grant permission; subject to further advice and discussion in the light of Waltham Forest's response to the LVRPA's letter before action, Judicial Review remains a possibility.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

British Waterways - job done, not

To the British Waterways project manager for Millfields works, 17 May.
Hi Mish

I doubt you'll remember, but we met and had a pleasant chat at the community planting on Millfields park last year. I dissuaded you from pesticide use, I think.

I'm now secretary of the Millfields Users Group so it's my job to harass you about the fact that the bridge walkway works have over-run.   BW said work would run from Monday 28th March for 6 weeks, i.e. till 8 May so it is over a week overdue. There's a rumour that the subcontractor is failing to install railings, in which case may I ask why they are being allowed to get away with this? Are penalties being applied?

There is a serious road safety issue here, as people are naturally crossing at the west end of Lea bridge, exposed to drivers coming blind over the hump-back. I have heard an unconfirmed report of an accident, and users are bringing the issue to the user group. Local councillors are also getting involved, and of course the local press will be the next stop.

Could I also ask when the long-broken railing at south Millfields will finally be repaired? BW has meticulously painted right up to the break on either side, which some might describe as provocative considering how long we've been waiting for this simple repair. It's tempting to feel that at Little Venice or the Zoo it would have been fixed long ago. We have had a very vague reply from BW via Hackney Streetscene and it would be courteous to give us a definite date, and an imminent one.


Monday, 16 May 2011

National Grid works restarting

National Grid held a briefing for community stakeholders including MUG on 10 May. These are the main things we learned. There is a public exhibition about the North London Reinforcement Project on Tuesday 17 May 2-8pm at at Nye Bevan Community Hall.
  • Vehicle access is as much as possible via route 4 (Chatsworth Rd, Millfields Rd, EDF). Loads that can’t negotiate the Chatsworth / Millfields Roads corner will go via Hillstowe St.
  • NG insist that they have designed the work to minimise road movement at Millfields. The tunnel is being bored from the westward end, and a new shaft has been sunk near Finsbury Park for insertion of construction equipment and materials.
  • At Millfields, spoil from sinking a new shaft to meet the tunnel will be brought out, and materials for a head house and other site structures and machinery will be brought in
  • Hours permitted for vehicles are:
    Monday - Friday 8 am – 6 pm loads, (7.30 – 6.30 site staff)
    Saturday 8 am – 1 pm.
    Millfields Road residents have pressed for no Saturday movements. Should MUG also do this?
    Please tell us if you see vehicles at other times.
  • Speed bumps by homes in Millfields and Chatsworth Road will be removed to reduce noise from heavy vehicles. Hackney council Streetscene will probably substitute vehicle actuated signs (as on Powerscroft Rd). Councils aren’t allowed to put top-speed type cameras except at an accident blackspot. Streetscene is pushing for government regulations to be changed to allow use of average-speed cameras.
  • NG will pay for landscaping in front of the substation. MUG is in touch with LBH Parks about this.
  • The very tall ugly building at the north east corner of the substation may be removed: this is something MUG asked for when the works began.
  • NG claims to be open to discussion of visual design of the new shaft head house which will be at the east side of the site, overlooking the orchard.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Park Authority must challenge Pickles

(continued from 26 March, 9 March)

The Lea Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) executive committee is to consider taking the Department for Communities and Local Government to judicial review over its refusal to intervene at Essex Wharf. Despite contrary advice from their senior planner, and legal officer, the LVRPA planning committee decided on 7 April to refer the decision upwards, following the intervention of a Lea Valley Federation delegation.

We ask all our members and supporters to press Hackney's representative to continue supporting judicial review.

Speaking for MUG and the other LVF groups, David Rees argued that
  • the proposed development is not merely a local issue: the Lea Valley is a Regional Park in the capital city, established by an act of Parliament, hence of national importance, and government should intervene to prevent a single local authority (Waltham Forest) damaging it
  • there has been no housing in the park on the east bank of the Lea till now, and there are other 'white land' sites where developers would build if they could: once this development goes through, the park authority will be confronted with many more attempts to develop the east bank
Hackney's delegate to the planning committee, councillor Chris Kennedy, argued persuasively against accepting their planning officer's advice, and in favour of looking closely at the possibilities for review. He noted that Waltham Forest council had gone so far as to rewrite their Unitary Development Plan (UDP), without consulting the park authority, to allow themselves to accept the development, and supported David Rees's argument about the likely domino effect for the park's white land enclaves. He argued that the authority might do best to fight on principle so as to put down a marker for developers, and for any boroughs tempted by them, that future applications would be fiercely resisted from the start.

Chris Kennedy also sits on the Executive so his position gives us some hope. Please contact cllr Kennedy to support his position and urge him to continue pushing for the LVRPA to pursue judicial review:

The next LVRPA executive committee is on 26 May. Judicial review would have to be brought within three months, which would fall on 18 June.