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LEYTON: Protesters halt works at Olympic site
10:08am Friday 30th March 2012 in Waltham Forest
CONSTRUCTION of a temporary Olympic training centre on Leyton Marshes has been completely halted by the protesters at the site.
A mix of residents and members of the Occupy London movement, which recently set up camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral, moved onto the site off Lea Bridge Road last weekend.
Campaigners are furious that the green space is being closed off to the public and fear the works could cause lasting damage to the scenic spot.
The Olympic Delivery Authority denies this and has promised to return the land to its original condition at the end of the Games this summer.
The plan was controversially approved by Waltham Forest Council in February despite a petition opposing it signed by 1,250 people.
An ODA spokesman confirmed works had been delayed but did not provide further information.
He said: "The basketball training venue for the Olympics and Paralympics is a temporary structure, that will be removed within a month of the end of the Games, and the land restored to its previous state.
"The vast majority of Leyton Marsh is completely unaffected.
"The ODA are committed to building a basketball training facility for the Games and regret that action has been taken which has delayed work on the site.
"More than 10 alternative existing sites were identified through a tendering process although none matched the specific requirements from the FIBA (International Basketball Federation), or where there were facilities, they were more than a 30-minute drive from the Olympic Village – an International Olympic Committee requirement.”
Caroline Day, 31, of the Save Leyton Marsh campaign, said: "The ODA say this is temporary, that they can restore the land to its original condition and that the majority of the marshes is unaffected - but we dispute all three of those claims.
"They are digging several feet down for the concrete foundations, despite saying on their planning application that it would be a few centimetres.
"They have admitted to us off the record that even if they relay it with turf the land won't be back to its original condition in October. It will take at least a year to grow back properly and around 10 for it to be a suitable habitat for wildlife again."
She added: "Residents and the occupy protesters are united, we're not two distinct groups but part of the same movement here. The numbers have stayed the same this week but more might come soon."
Home office officials reportedly visited the site this morning to inspect it but did not speak to protesters.
Around 12 tents are currently erected by the building works on the land.
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