Campaigners slam council over plans to build on Hackney Marsh

A mock up of the cricket pavillion on Hackney Marshes

A mock up of the cricket pavillion on Hackney Marshes - Credit: Archant

Environmental campaigners have accused Hackney Council of distorting figures in a bid to make council plans to build a new car park on green open space appear acceptable.

Proposals for a new cricket pavilion on Hackney Marsh involve building a 68-space car park next to Cow Bridge off Mandeville Street, where the outdated changing rooms now stand.

The new building will then be built close by on open land currently used by dog walkers, children, walkers and cyclists.

Campaign group Save Lea Marshes (SLM) has slammed the plans, saying it is unacceptable to knock down trees to make way for a car park and a building on green land.

Meanwhile, Cllr Jonathan McShane, the council’s cabinet member for health social care and culture, insisted more trees will be planted in the long run and says there will be less parking spaces as the new car park will replace the previous 240-space on the north marsh.

But outraged campaigners pointed out that the old car park had not been in use for over a decade, since Cow Bridge became unsafe.

Caroline Day, spokeswoman for SLM – which would like to see a new pavilion built on the footprint of the old changing rooms – said: “The claims by Jonathan McShane are just as believable as his claim that events like the Radio 1 Weekend would make Hackney money, when it actually cost us upwards of £750,000.”

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She believes building a car park there contradicts the council’s aim to reduce reliance on cars in favour of public transport.

“There are loads of signs around Hackney saying: ‘Love your parks and green spaces,’ but it’s something they could enshrine in their own actions,” she said.

SLM member Vicky Sholund added: “The issue is not the number of car parking spaces – the council can use numbers to cover up the fact that they are proposing building on space that is currently green.”

Kev Refuse, a member of the Hackney Marsh Users Group (HMUG), believes new changing rooms are needed at the northern end of the marsh, but not to the detriment of the marsh itself.

“HMUG were given four plan options to consider on this issue, and not one of those options didn’t include a huge car park, and destruction of trees and current green space,” he said.

“Once again the council talk of communicating with local groups, and involving the community but all they really say is: ‘This is what’s going to happen, like it’.”

The results of the consultation will be announced shortly and if the council decides to proceed a planning application which will require further statutory consultation will be submitted.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, the council’s cabinet member for health social care and culture said: “Far from adding extra car parking and destroying trees, proposals for the new cricket pavillion will actually see more trees planted and over 70 per cent fewer car parking spaces on North Marsh.”

He continued: “Parking space will return to the North Marsh when the new pavillion is built, but we are reducing the number, in line with our aim to reduce reliance on cars and other vehicles in favour of public and sustainable transport.”