Public inquiry announced for controversial Marshes pavillion and car parks bid

Cricketers from Stoke Newington Cricket Club on the site earmarked for the new pavillion.

Cricketers from Stoke Newington Cricket Club on the site earmarked for the new pavillion. - Credit: Archant

A public inquiry will be held into Hackney Council’s controversial application to build a cricket pavilion and two car parks on the Marshes, meaning any decision could still be months away.

The government’s Planning Inspectorate (PINS) announced an inquiry would be the “most appropriate way” to determine the application, which involves building on protected Metropolitan Open Land at East Marsh and North Marsh.

PINS consent is needed before the application can go ahead, because it involves building on common land, and public inquiries are held when an application has received many objections, or when the issues involved are complex.

Paul Charman from the Save Lea Marshes (SLM) campaign group said: “It’s unusual, as it’s an expensive and complex thing to do, but it does mean they will look very carefully at all aspects of the proposal.

“There was one previously in Hackney about a footpath in London Fields in 2009, it took nine months from when the council made the application until the inquiry was heard, and it looks like that was quite a quick one.”

SLM objects to the plans, saying that it would be possible to provide sporting facilities without building on open green space, by building on the present footprint of the changing rooms.

A council application granted planning permission in 2009 described the present site as the “optimal location”.

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SLM has criticised the council’s for spending thousands of pounds of public money hiring planning consultants, Firstplan, to help push through the plans.

Cricketers from Stoke Newington Cricket Club however, have mounted their own campaign, and have now garnered over 700 signatures on a petition supporting the plans.

Last year a council application to build a 60-space carpark on East Marsh was withdrawn after it emerged the council employee who made the East Marsh application, Leigh Simms, had circulated an email to her council colleagues encouraging them to comment favourably on it.

It then transpired the car park had already been constructed without the mandatory consent from either the council or PINS.

Kim Wright, the council’s corporate director of health and community services, said: “We await notification from the PINS of the date and duration of the inquiry.”