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Leyton Marsh being considered for new ice rink
Campaigners have expressed horror at news that a new ice rink centre could be built in a green space area which was controversially dug up for a temporary sports hall for the Olympics.
It has emerged that Leyton Marsh is being considered as a possible site for a potential new sports venue by landowners The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA).
There is already an ice rink at the edge of the site which would be demolished and replaced by a modernised facility if the location was chosen.
Campaigners believe the new structure would be much bigger and therefore would encroach on the marsh land.
The LVRPA says no decision will be made without a public consultation and said a number of sites for the proposed building were being looked at.
The land was controversially closed off to the public and used for a temporary basketball training venue during the Olympics in 2012.
Waltham Forest Council granted planning permission on the condition the site would be restored to its original condition by October 15, but the deadline was missed and campaigners say the marsh was irreparably damaged by the works.
The ice rink news was revealed in a letter by LVRPA chief executive Shaun Dawson to a councillor in Hackney.
The authority has used its Twitter account to downplay the significance of his comments.
It said: "No plans 2do anything re LV Ice Centre – just research looking at options for future as we regularly do with all our venues".
The letter from Mr Dawson said: "The existing site on the Lea Bridge is being looked at as part of this exercise [of researching potential sites].
"We are of course mindful of the value of the Leyton Marsh as public open space and of the local sensibilities around any developments in the area and how they might impact on the marsh.
"If we do decide to seriously consider the existing ice centre site for a new ice centre we will put in place a community engagement process at the very beginning."
But the Save Leyton Marsh campaign has described the letter as "disturbing" and "worrying".
It said in a statement: "The basketball court development only received planning permission on the basis that the facility was 'temporary', that the Olympics were 'special circumstances' and that the marsh would be 'restored to its original condition'.
"Now the marsh has been damaged, there are no special circumstances of 'national interest' such as the Olympics and the development of an ice centre would be permanent.
"However, as we warned, the planning permission given for the basketball courts changed the nature of the land from ‘playing fields’ to ‘suitable for purposes of assembly and leisure’, thus making future development easier."
Mr Dawson said in a statement: “The LV Ice Centre is a highly successful and popular facility attracting nearly 300,000 visitors a year, but it is 28 years old and the Authority needs to look at options for the future.
"The Authority is currently going through a process of researching and developing various options.
“We are mindful of the value of Leyton Marsh as a popular public open space and Lee Valley Ice Centre’s position as a popular sporting and community venue.
"Once the options have been developed there will be extensive consultation and engagement with the Ice Centre users and the local community.
"The initial research stage will be completed by April.”
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