Marshes housing plan changed

Council changes marsh designation in its housing ‘vision’ – but other threats to build on open land remain

Leyton Marshes

Part of Leyton Marshes that was provisionally earmarked for housing development by Waltham Forest Council, which has now been removed from the latest plans following local outrage

A controversial housing plan that included building homes on Leyton Marshes has been amended by Waltham Forest Council following a local campaign.

More than 5,000 people signed a petition opposing the original version of the council’s ‘Lea Valley Eastside Vision’, which designated five acres of marshland as being suitable for housing development as part of plans for 4,500 new homes in the Leyton and Lea Bridge areas.

The backlash also prompted a pledge by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to protect Metropolitan Open Land, the city’s equivalent of the Green Belt.

The new version of the plan, now agreed by the council’s cabinet, changes the designation of the marshland surrounding the Waterworks Centre from “residential led” to “possible regeneration opportunity” and reduces the area of marsh included.

Campaigners from Save Lea Marshes on the steps of Waltham Forest Town Hall after handing in their petition to the council

Campaign group Save Lea Marshes, which has been leading the opposition to Lea Valley Eastside, described the decision as “laudable” and “a strong indication the council knows it is wrong to build on the marshes”.

However the group says it is “disappointing” that building on the land, owned by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, has still not been entirely ruled out.

In related news, a planning application (reference 171408) has been submitted for the construction of an academy school in Lea Bridge Road, also on a site designated as Metropolitan Open Land, and which had previously been part of Leyton Marshes.

The government-run Education Funding Agency purchased the depot site from Thames Water in 2015. Waltham Forest Council has previously stated its opposition to building two schools on the site.