Hackney campaigners step up fight against Olympic basketball hall on Leyton Marshes

Residents and park users along the River Lee in Upper Clapton have stepped up their campaign to block plans for a giant Olympic basketball hall just across the water on Leyton Marshes.

Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) bosses want to build an 11-metre high temporary basketball training venue – along with an access road and car park – behind the Lee Valley Ice Centre in Lea Bridge Road.

It would be in place between March and October this year.

But as the public consultation period closed last Tuesday, campaigners from Hackney told the Gazette of their concerns.

Barry Buitekant, Haggerston ward councillor and committee member of Millfields User Group, said he shared the anxieties of residents of Riverside Close, opposite the proposed site, which included fears about increased traffic, noise pollution and damage to wildlife.

Katy Andrews, planning liaison officer for environmental group the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee, also accused the ODA of applying to build a structure far larger than originally proposed and failing to release information about the appearance and environmental impact of the venue.

“Why are they leaving it until now to try and build on green open space?” she said. “Haven’t they thought about this over the past six years?”

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In an opposition letter to Waltham Forest Council, which will make the planning decision, she added: “Whilst this may be only ‘temporary’ in planning terms, it is a sufficiently long time to deprive local people of a whole spring and summer of enjoyment of one of the few pieces of informal recreational open land not so far directly affected by the baleful impact of the Olympic Games.”

An ODA spokesman said: “The ODA has worked hard to minimise any impact on the section of Leyton Marsh where the temporary basketball training venue is planned. We have done this alongside the landowner to limit any effects on the area and so that the land will be reinstated immediately after the Games.”

He added that the Games-time training venues would leave a lasting legacy.