Legal threat over plan to make Wanstead Flats an Olympics police base

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to turn part of Wanstead Flats into a police base during the 2012 Olympic Games have written to the Home Secretary threatening to seek a judicial review into the “gigantic eyesore”.

The land is protected under the Epping Forest Act 1878, but that is set to be temporarily amended by the City of London Corporation, which is responsible for the forest.

It means the Metropolitan Police Service will take over 3.5 acres of the site for 90 days around the Games, subject to consultation.

But angry campaigners from Save Wanstead Flats are demanding the Home Office release full details of why the land was chosen to house the police base – details they claim have so far been kept under wraps.

They are also accusing the City of London Corporation of “betraying” residents by releasing the land for the London Games.

Group spokesman Kevin Blowe said : “We want to see what other sites were considered and what their criteria was for choosing Wanstead Flats. We feel it was a very random decision.

He added: “I didn’t appreciate how much emotional attachment people had to Wanstead Flats. There’s a real sense of ownership of the land.”

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Last month, 230 people were at a meeting held to give residents a chance to air their views on the proposed briefing centre.

Among them was Alan Cornish, chairman of Friends of Wanstead Parklands, who told the Recorder: “This sets a dangerous precedent. It is a gigantic eyesore.”

A spokesman for the corporation said: “We are confident we are seeking a solution that would be in the best interests of most people.”

Security and counter-terrorism minister Baroness Neville-Jones said: “There is no intention to make this [amendment to the Epping Forest Act] permanent, it is important that this well loved space is preserved for future use.”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Service,, will pay �170,000 to the City of London Corporations for use of the site, said: “We will shortly be submitting our planning application to Redbridge Council.

“This information will form part of this application and so will be made public at this time.”