PROTESTS are being stepped up this weekend over controversial plans to use part of Wanstead Flats as a police base during the London Olympics.

During the Take Back Wanstead Flats event on Sunday, November 21, opponents will gather at the popular beauty spot to mark out a 'living map' of the proposed site, which hosts fairgrounds and other events during the summer months.

The Metropolitan Police plans to use the site as a muster briefing and deployment centre for 90 days over the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

Police bosses have assured the public the base will be temporary, and will pay £170,000 to the Corporation of London, which looks after the Flats.

However, opponents say the base will damage the land and fear it will set a precedent for future development.

One of the organisers, Kevin Blowe, who runs Durning Hall on the Forest Gate side of the Flats, said: “We're hoping the immediate effect of this is to gather together existing members of the campaign, but also welcome new people who are concerned about the plans.

“It'll help to keep the campaign alive because it's possibly the last chance for people who are interested to get together for a little while.

“Of course, at any time Redbridge Council's public consultation on the planning application could be announced and we hope that won't clash too much with the Christmas period.”

Mr Blowe said that the campaign's focus could soon shift to the legislative reform order (LRO) that the police must obtain to temporarily suspend the Epping Forest Act, which prevents building on and enclosing any part of the Flats.

He added: “It'll be interesting to see what shape the LRO actually takes.

“It's got to pass through Parliament and once it's announced it'll be a matter of lobbying local MPs to vote against it.

“It'd be nice to see some of them take a view on the matter because we've not heard much so far.”

The event follows the success of a community picnic on the site in August, at which hundreds of people turned out to show their opposition to the plans.

The event will start at 2pm. For more information, visit