LEYTON: Review launched into approval of Olympic marshes site
A JUDICIAL review has been launched into a decision to allow an Olympic training centre to be built on public land.
The Save Leyton Marsh group announced today (Thursday) that it has taken out the review to establish whether Waltham Forest Council had acted lawfully in giving planning permission to a proposal to build a temporary basketball court on the green space off Lea Bridge Road.
The Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) plan was controversially approved in February despite a petition against it signed by 1,250 people, with the majority of councillors agreeing with the ODA that the Olympics created "exceptional circumstances" which justified building it.
But protesters claim there are plenty of alternative sites athletes could have used to train, such as nearby leisure facilities.
The group's spokeswoman, Caroline Day, said: "It's protected land, which is why we've taken out the judicial review. We think the council should never have granted it planning permission because of the other sites that weren't even explored as options.
"The development so far has caused alarm, nuisance and has been disastrous from the start."
The centre's construction has been dogged by controversies including an evacuation caused by an unexploded bomb from the Second World War that was excavated and allegations that diggers had unearthed rubble containing asbestos.
But Ms Day admitted that even if successful the review was unlikely to bring a halt to the works.
"It's academic in terms of the facility - it's being built," she added. "But it's very important in the long term because if we show they have acted unlawfully we can get stronger protection for the land in the future, it strengthens our hand."
However, the review could crumble if the campaigners are unsuccessful in their application for a protective cost order, which would mean they would need to pay thousands of pounds to see the review progress.
The group was evicted after peacefully protesting on the construction site in April to deny workers access, fearing the building will permanently damage the green space - something the ODA denies.
But fellow campaigner Simon Moore, 29, had an ASBO handed to him for his part in the protest extended by two years yesterday (June 19).
It means he cannot go within 100 yards of any Olympic venue or event.
Ms Day said: "We are disgusted. This is an example of the law being used to deny people of their right to protest."
Mr Moore will speak about his ASBO at an open meeting on Tuesday (June 26) between 7pm and 9pm at Harmony Hall, Truro Road, in Walthamstow.
A council spokeswoman said: “A claim has been brought against the council by the Save Leyton Marshes group regarding temporary planning permission granted for basketball training courts to be used during Games time. The council is defending the claim on the grounds that its decision was lawful."
The Guardian is awaiting comment from the ODA.