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Fencing falls out

.: Clays Lane Co-op under demolition Clays Lane Co-op under demolition Photo by Mike WellsNot the blue fence but the Fencing Hall falls out! Pity. Clays Lane residents suggested events like this could easily be held in other locations meaning their estate could have been taken out of the Park. In fact, we tried to argue that the whole Games could have been parcelled out to a range of existing facilities!

It is now reported that the hall, which is at present located next to the Athletes' Village, may not be built and the event could be relocated to the Excel Centre at a saving of £90m. Hardly an original idea and one specifically put forward by residents at the Compulsory Purchase Inquiry.

Clays Lane was marked out as the site of the Athletes' Village from the start. Residents had pointed out, when the LDA first came to the estate at the end of 2003, that all the housing for the Village could be put on the neighbouring Stratford City site as the plans had not utilised all the space there. When we said this we were told it could not be done because there were security concerns about a railway line, which would have been in a tunnel!

Having said it was impossible the LDA then did exactly what we had suggested and put nearly all the housing for the Village on Stratford City in 2006. This was where it remained during the Compulsory Purchase Inquiry in the summer of 2006 only to move back to Clays Lane in 2007.

Residents tried to put forward proposals at the CPO Inquiry to save their housing and community. Clays Lane is close to the edge of the Park so it was conceivable the 'red line' could have been drawn around the estate. The Village 'footprint' includes so-called back of house facilities like cafes, medical centres and other support services as well as the housing. At one time, while we were presenting evidence to the Inquiry, these back of house facilities occupied all but a sliver of the Clays Lane site. Only a very small part of the estate continued to be assigned as housing for the Village.

We proposed moving some sports facilities, including hockey and Paralympic tennis and later fencing, which were located just to the west of the Village, to other locations so that these back of house facilities could be moved westwards on to those sites. If this had been done then sufficient space would have been created to save our estate. Neither the LDA nor the Inspector paid any attention.

Some of these sports facilities like Paralympic tennis, hockey and fencing had been outside the Park or in different parts of the Park. They were then moved around, at one time or another ending up in the northern sector near the Village and Clays Lane. Residents were faced with a process in which the LDA were allowed to move the goal posts at will, while we tried to present objections to show there really were viable alternatives.

So now the ODA implicitly accepts the validity of objectors' criticisms. Of course, objectors had also pointed out that the costs put forward by the LDA and the Government were, essentially, lies. Cost saving, in the wake of the demolition of these absurd financial estimates, is now the reason given for doing something which could have been done at the start, namely moving facilities off site. The Inspector failed to pay any attention to arguments about the obviously flawed accounts or the possibility of locating facilities elsewhere when trying to assess the damage to local communities liked ours.

The subtle thrust and counter thrust of fencing may have fallen out but the unimaginative, bullying mindset of the blue fence, which has dominated this project from day one, is still very much in place.

See more at: Times

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