Hackney Marsh car park under council planning application has already been built

The car park the council have put in an application to build actually already exists on East Marsh.

The car park the council have put in an application to build actually already exists on East Marsh. Photo credit Paul Charman - Credit: Archant

A car park has already been completed on a site where Hackney Council has just lodged a planning application to build one.

The 60-space car park, that the council has applied to build at the corner of the East Marsh where Spittlefields Market meets Ruckholt Road, has been constructed without mandatory common land consent.

East Marsh was concreted over in 2011 to make way for a coach park for the Olympics. The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) had promised to reinstate the land to grass and football pitches.

When the Gazette approached Hackney Council to ask why the car park they are applying for had already been built, a spokesman said the construction is “temporary” and that “planning permission is required for it to be kept there permanently”.

The council says it wants to reinstate a car park which previously existed.

However, while there was one next to the former changing rooms alongside the River Lee, the approved East Marsh reinstatement layout did not include a car park.

Paul Charman, from pressure group Olympic Games Monitor, said: “I don’t think you can talk about reinstating a car park when it’s not built in the same place, it’s not in the same footprint.

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“Normally the council would take action over common land encroachments but obviously this won’t happen because the council has an interest in it and it’s a project they want passed.

“It still needs to go to the Planning Inspectorate but it’s going to be retrospective so why isn’t this clear in the planning application?

“Waiting until it’s virtually complete eight months after construction started must be a deliberate tactic, since once something is built it’s very hard to get rid of and the council cannot take enforcement action against itself even if it refuses planning permission.”

Caroline Day, spokeswoman for campaign group Save Lea Marshes, said: “Unfortunately I’m past being surprised at any of this. I wish I was shocked because that would show it was an extraordinary event.”

Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture, did not speak to the Gazette directly but in a statement said: “The car park includes provision for cyclists and takes up less than two per cent of the East Marsh, serving 11 football pitches due to be reinstated by LLDC.”

Last week the Gazette reported campaigners were furious at what they claimed were council attempts to “sew up” the outcome of a consultation to build what would be a third car park on the Marshes next to Cow Bridge after an email emerged showing the council’s project manager was encouraging colleagues to comment favourably on the application.

Council plans for the 68-space Cow Bridge car park are opposed by campaigners who believe the introduction of cars on green open land contradicts the council’s own policy to discourage car use.

They believe the car park at the Hackney Marsh User Centre is sufficient.

The LLDC did not want to comment.