Plan for a £3.6m sports pavilion and associated car parking have been given the go–ahead by Hackney planners despite being subject to a public inquiry later this month.
The plans, approved by a planning sub-committee, have met with opposition from local community groups but were welcomed by cricket clubs.
The development of Hackney Marshes will involve building one new car park at East Marsh, replacing of the existing changing rooms at North Marsh and building new cricket facilities and a pavilion.
The plans are still subject to approval by the Planning Inspectorate which is holding a public inquiry starting on June 16.
Councillor Jonathan McShane, Hackney Council cabinet member for Health, Social Care and Culture said the main purpose of the development was sports: “We all want the same thing – marshes with great sports facilities for all.”
However, groups who oppose the approval think the planned expansions in Hackney will damage the environment of the marshes.
Caroline Day of Save Lea Marshes, a group campaigning to ensure that all the Lower Lea Valley marshes, including Hackney Marshes, are well kept, said: “The present plans constitute an inefficient use of space since the pavilion building has been designed with fewer changing rooms.”
They believe planners need to revisit issues regarding the relationship between development and environmental challenges.
“We understand that the sports clubs are delighted at the prospect of updated facilities and we have never opposed replacing the present changing room block with something more fit for purpose” explained Day,
Their purpose is not to stop the development of sport in Hackney, but to reduce unnecessary loss of green space, she told Eastlondonlines.
Save Lea Marshes believe a new pavilion on the footprint of the current facilities would be a better solution than “on presently green open space on the common land of Hackney Marshes.”
The Hackney Society also says the plans are potentially damaging to the environment and called for a reduction in the car parking space and better use of the available land.
But local cricket clubs feel positive about the proposed changes. Rosaneri Cricket said on Twitter it was “a victory for cricket” while Stokie Cricket Club, also believe the new facilities will attract more children to become “involved in a lifetime of sport.”