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Opposition is growing to Lammas Land proposals
OPPOSITION is growing to secret plans by Olympic developers and Waltham Forest Council to relocate allotments from Newham to protected green space in Waltham Forest.
Last week the Guardian revealed the council is waiting for a planning application from the London Development Agency (LDA) for land at Marsh Lane Playing fields to accommodate allotments from Newham until after the Olympics.
The allotments in Waterden Road, Stratford, must move because they fall within the Olympic precinct.
The green space in question is Lammas Land - land held in trust by the council on behalf of the public - and according to legal covenants must remain open so people are free to roam there.
In December, unbeknown to residents, park users and Lammas Land supporters, allotment holders from Newham were taken to Waltham Forest to check out the proposed site.
Now groups are furious at official manoeuvres without public consultation.
John Spears, chairman of Waltham Forest Allotment Holders and a resident of nearby Manor Road, said: "Since the LDA's first approach to allotment holders in Newham, they have held four more meetings with them and even bussed them down to the site for a look around.
"The LDA claim that this is only a proposal, but on their website only Marsh Lane is shown as under review. There is no plan B.
"This fiasco could have been avoided if the LDA had taken the trouble to talk to local councillors and residents before proceeding so far.
"It is this attitude that fosters suspicion among the general public about official bodies and their intentions."
Mr Spears says the site is contaminated with asbestos, full of Second World War rubble and would need 8,000 tons of clay and top soil to make it suitable for allotment use.
He was due to voice his concerns when he joined Katy Andrews of the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee for a meeting with LDA representatives on a tour of the Marsh Lane site today.
Council officers told Cllr Bob Sullivan they had advised the LDA of the Lammas Land issue and encouraged the discussion of proposals with local interest groups and ward members before an application was submitted.
Officers also made it clear that a permanent relocation to the site was unlikely to be acceptable and there should be clear proposals for an exit strategy.
Cllr Sullivan, who believes the move would not be temporary, said: "Even though the LDA has not carried out a consultation it does not stop the council from doing it when we receive an official planning application."