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Hackney golfers slate Waterworks transformation into Olympic campsite

PUBLISHED: 16:59 31 July 2013 | UPDATED: 16:59 31 July 2013

The new campsite, photo courtesy of Save Lea  Marshes

The new campsite, photo courtesy of Save Lea Marshes

Archant

A scheme to cash in on the Olympic legacy has seen a much-loved green space turned into a temporary campsite for drunken revellers.

The new campsite, photo courtesy of Save Lea  MarshesThe new campsite, photo courtesy of Save Lea Marshes

The idea – dubbed a “white elephant” by campaigners – has seen gig-goers attending events such as the recent Wireless Festival and LiveNation in July at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford before bedding down in tents on the former Waterworks Golf Centre in nearby Leyton.

The 22-acre area of open land, previously used by walkers and golfers from Hackney, has been described as a “green lung” for London.

But activists say the plan from site managers Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), which involves charging punters £25-a-pop to camp for the night, will see them losing cash on the 16-tent, five-acre site.

Opponents have also pointed out the Olympic Stadium is a 45-minute, three mile walk away across a busy A-road.

Correspondence obtained via a Freedom of Information request reveals authorities have voiced the same concerns.

One email – discussing the temporary campsite – explained: “Who would steward/sign the routes into the site and more importantly who would manage a very drunken crowd back to their tents at the end of the night?”

Caroline Day of the Save Lea Marshes campaign group, who lives in Upper Clapton, said: “We feel this idea will completely destroy an area which is a vital ‘green lung’ for London.

“We are likely to see concrete, motorhomes, caravans and other vehicles on there.

“It is not suitable as a campsite on many different levels. The LVRPA is using the Olympic legacy to develop the site by stealth.

“They are wasting taxpayers’ money to fence us out.

“They (the Government) have already spent £13billion on an Olympics that most of us never got to see apart from on the television.”

Meanwhile Julian Cheyne of the pressure group, Olympic Games Monitor, which is based in Hackney added: “To cover their costs they are going to have a lot of people staying there, while we are losing a perfectly good facility which could be improved.

“They could build a nine-hole organic golf course there and improve the nature reserve.

“We think it is a crackpot scheme.”

But LVPRA – which has responsibility for managing the Waterworks Centre and the five-acre campsite – hit back at the campaigners claims.

A spokeswoman said: “Over the first weekend of opening, everyone who stayed at our campsite arrived back safely, and we had no problems with anyone who stayed with us.

“The majority of our customers took the opportunity to use a local cab firm.

“There were no complaints of disruption.

‘‘We have a clear noise curfew for all our customers who stay, and this is clearly stated in advance at the time of booking.”

The LVPRA – who are funded via a levy on council taxpayers in London, Essex and Hertfordshire – also admitted they “reconsidered” their plans for the site after the London 2012 Games.


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