Monday 7 June 2010

Met Seeks Permission for Olympic 'Military Base' On Wanstead Flats

The Evening Standard has a report today that in order to build a temporary Olympics headquarters on Wanstead Flats, which is just up the road from me, the Metropolitan Police are seeking to overturn a nineteenth-century act of parliament.

The Epping Forest Act of 1878 arose from battles between landowners who enclosed land and commoners who demanded grazing rights. It saved Epping Forest from further enclosure, placed it in the care of the City of London Corporation and stipulated that they "shall at all times keep Epping Forest unenclosed and unbuilt on as an open space for the recreation and enjoyment of the people".

"The People's Forest"continues to provide an important wildlife habitat and Wanstead Flats a recreational space for local people , not least because of campaigns such as the one fought immediately after the second world war to prevent the building of houses on part of it - see this summary from Eastside Community Heritage on the "Save the Flats" campaign (PDF).

It is therefore alarming that the
City of London Corporation has said that the application needs to be "properly considered". It's completely unlike the temporary use of the Flats by the occasional travelling circus, firework display or fairground. Instead the Met's headquarters will presumably be a high security structure, bristling with CCTV and 'sterile' areas, which will deny access for a year to walkers, cyclists, kite flyers and model aircraft geeks, as well as dozens of sports teams. Already, part of Hackney Marshes earmarked for for Olympic parking means no football pitches for local teams from 2011 until mid-2013.

One friend of mine sarcastically wondered, on hearing the news, whether the Met plans a runway strip for the drone cameras they want to fly and perhaps a gunboat for the Sandhills Pond.

Joking aside, if the City of London Corporation caves in to this proposal, we will effectively have a military base on our doorstep from some point in 2011. We will also have a precedent set - that Wanstead Flats can be treated as just a convenient area of empty ground, not an open space that belongs to the people of east London.


Anonymous said...

Why are the police putting up buildings on a greenfield site?.

It is not environmently friendly to put up temporary buildings and then tear them down again.

Why can't they find some disused building and give it a lick of paint?. Or better still lease a temporary building. The Olympics are a 16 day event. The Olympic stadium capacity is 80,000. Wmebley has a capacity of 90,000 but you don't see the police asking for new buildings. Plus football can attrack trouble makers....

My gut feeling is that someone has to the police that they put in a planning application. But if it a front for a big developer. After all who is going to say NO to the police. Once the police have planning permission, it opens the door for further planning applications.....

Anonymous said...

Can you provide a link the Planning Application and also information about how people should object.

I would be interested to know if Newham Council support or object to this planning application.....

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