Marsh car park must go – but new cricket pavillion is approved

The car park actually already exists on East Marsh. Photo credit Paul Charman

The car park actually already exists on East Marsh. Photo credit Paul Charman - Credit: Archant

A car park built on protected land must be removed while controversial plans for a cricket pavilion can go ahead, a government inspector has ruled.

The pavillion can now go ahead after gettings PINs approval

The pavillion can now go ahead after gettings PINs approval - Credit: Archant

Susan Doran from the government’s Planning Inspectorate (PINS) made the decision following a seven-day hearing in June.

Hackney Council’s planning committee had given the green light earlier that month to the council’s own two applications to build a car park on East Marsh and cricket facilities and a 68-space car park on North Marsh – both on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).

The application for the 60-space car park on East Marsh was withdrawn from the planning committee at the last minute in September 2013 when it emerged it had already been built without the mandatory consent from either the council or PINS.

The month before, a council officer was accused of trying to “stitch up” the outcome of the planning application by circulating an email to council colleagues encouraging them to comment favourably on it.

Ms Doran concluded that the car park would minimally affect anyone taking exercise on the land and it wouldn’t adversely affect the neighbourhood or nature conservation.

But she said the landscape and public rights of access would be harmed, and turned down planning consent. The council will now have to turn the car park back into grassland.

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Regarding the cricket pavilion and car park, she concluded any adverse effects like loss of green space and impact on the landscape, were outweighed by the advantages of better sports facilities.

Tom Tanner, club secretary of Stoke Newington Cricket Club, which will use the new pavilion as its clubhouse, said hundreds of cricketers and footballers are celebrating the decision.

“This is a victory for common sense as it will enable thousands of future aspiring sportspeople the chance to use this fantastic facility, helping improve the health and wellbeing of young people in Hackney and east London,” he said.

A spokesman for conservation campaign group Save Lea Marshes, which argued a new sports pavilion could have been designed with less impact on the green space, said they were disappointed, but that they expect the council to remove the “unlawfully retained car park” at East Marsh immediately.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture, said: “Lots of people told us they wanted this new pavilion and we worked hard to ensure it would not have a negative impact on the beauty, tranquillity and wildlife of the Marshes.

“It’s disappointing that our application for the new car park on East Marsh was turned down and we will now be developing proposals to return this area to grass to comply with the decision.”