Gardens given by Villers bottom right, friend of Churchil Midle 2nd from left
John Matherson holds Olympic tourch of defience at event on allotments
Old timers on the allotment roast chesnuts
Reg has had his allotment for 55 years and his dad for 14 before him
Campaigners out on Marsh Lane Fields
Plaque on Fields. Hopefully the LDA's planned encroachment will be resisted too.
Kids on Marsh Lane Fields enjoy feeding the horses.
Outside town hall after winning over the planners, campaigner celebrate
Local residents and the LDA were allowed three minutes to argue their case. Members of the public talked passionately against the loss of their open space, which they describe as a piece of the countryside in London. The LDA was somewhat less convincing, when they tried to sell the loss of this open space on the back of the supposed advantages of the Olympics in general.
Users of the existing Manor Gardens Allotments do not want to leave their site. It is a beautiful place with a real sense of community. They have been campaigning and organising to save their land. Much of the land the LDA wishes to secure for the Olympics has a rich history. Manor Gardens was given by Major Villiers, a friend of Winston Churchill, to be used “in perpetuity” as gardens by local people. The Gardens’ proposed relocation site at Marsh Lane Fields is what is known as Lammas Land, and is in theory protected as metropolitan open space.
Hackney Marshes are also former Lammas Lands. These were meadows on which parishioners have the right to graze cattle. These rights date back to before the Norman Conquest, and possibly pre date the Roman era. Locals at Marsh Lane Fields use these rights to graze their horses. The LDA’s plans to take various other open spaces including part of Hackney Marshes for a car park serving the Olympics are likely to face legal challenges due to this status.
Within and surrounding the proposed Olympic park are many areas that have been off the developers’ radar and have consequently grown organically to develop their own flavour and authenticity. An authenticity rarely found in London, both the sites affected by last night’s planning decision are examples of this. Rare places in London where money doesn’t have to be spent for recreation, their character is not contrived or there for anyone’s profit. Somehow romantic places where people graze horses, dig their veg, or just hang out and chat over roasting chestnuts. Consequently determined campaigns are
running to save places under threat from what many see the Disneyization proposed by Olympic planners. How the squeaky clean Olympic brand identity can sit with the authenticity of the existing area is an interesting question. How for example will junk yards on the periphery of the Olympic Park square with the image of London 2012.
After yesterday’s victory Waltham Forest’s debating chamber echoed with the sound of cheering as locals. However as Rosemary Johnson, who gave evidence against last night’s proposal, says … “the LDA will be back” meaning they will most likely mount an appeal, and so the battle for Manor Gardens Allotments and Marsh Lane Fields is far from over. It is however a least a serious delay for the LDA who are under enormous pressure as the clock ticks relentlessly towards 2012. It is one of many battles the LDA will face, with many who remain unimpressed by the Olympics.
I am sorry everyone but this article has taken a lot of work and so … though please feel free to copy the story for not for profit purposes but profit making companies will have to pay me for it. Hence photos and text are …
Copyright Mike Wells
Thursday 8th Feb 2007
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John Matherson on allotments with Olympic tourch of defience
There are some more pics of the allotments as well as my comments on my site starting at:
and also some pictures of Marsh Lane at:
It will be interesting to see what happens next, though I very much hope the allotments will be allowed to remain. It would be possible for the allotments to be incorporated within the plans for the Olympic site, and they would put some flesh onto the rather empty claims being made for them being 'green'. I think the major problem would actually be about allowing access to them during the building, when the intention seems to be to put a large high security fence around the entire area and let nobody in.