Draft Legislative Reform (Epping Forest) Order 2011 - Regulatory Reform Committee Contents

2  Background

Epping Forest Act 1878

2. The Epping Forest Act 1878 enabled, "the Disafforestation of Epping Forest and the preservation and management of the unenclosed parts thereof as an Open Space for the recreation and enjoyment of the public; and for other purposes".[1] The preservation aspect followed concerns from the City of London Corporation and others in the second half of the nineteenth century that large areas of the Forest were being enclosed for development, without due regard for commoners' rights or general recreational needs. The Act entrusted the ownership and care of Epping Forest to the City, and appointed the City of London Corporation as the Conservator of Epping Forest. Its strictures still govern how the Forest is managed today.[2] The Forest may also be subject to private rights of commoners which are not covered by the Order.[3]

3. Wanstead Flats, in the London Borough of Redbridge, is the southern-most point of Epping Forest. Situated within the built up areas of Wanstead, Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Manor Park, Wanstead Flats is described in the Home Office Consultation Document as "a much loved public open space, well used by [a] variety of people for a whole range of recreational activities".[4] The consultation responses emphasised the high value the community places on the area. The lobby group Save Wanstead Flats additionally explained the history of the Flats, which is deeply significant to the local people. Reiterating the concerns regarding enclosure in the nineteenth century, they explained that resistance to enclosure re-emerged in the aftermath of the Second World War, with the successful campaign by the Wanstead Flats Defence Committee against plans by West Ham Corporation to build new housing on the Flats.[5] In this context, it is unsurprising that the draft Legislative Reform Order (LRO) has raised concerns within the local community.

Providing effective security for the Olympic and Paralympic Games

4. In successfully bidding for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Government signed a series of formal guarantees to the International Olympic Committee to take "all necessary financial, planning and operational measures" to secure their safe and peaceful celebration.[6] Due to their sheer scale, the largest peacetime safety and security event to date in the UK, the Games will pose significant and unprecedented policing and security challenges. They will require over 10,000 police officers to be deployed on peak days.

5. The MPS has concluded that a secure Games can best be achieved by using three geographically-based, purpose-built, temporary MBDCs. These will each serve the North-East, South-East and West London venues. MBDCs are a tried and tested way of marshalling and briefing large numbers of police officers. They are temporary, purpose-built structures designed to support large numbers of officers for short periods of time and have been used for other large scale events such as the Notting Hill Carnival.

6. The proposed North-East London MBDC would be the largest of the three, supporting 3,500 officers a day at its peak. It would cover venues including the Olympic Park, Victoria Park — where supporting Olympic events are taking place — and Stratford, the major transport hub. In order to meet the MPS's operational requirements, a suitable site would have to fulfil a number of criteria relating to security, access and distance from the Olympic Park. These relate to matters such as the size of the site, access to the site and proximity to main roads (including secondary and heavy vehicle access), proximity to residential and business premises which may be adversely affected, and risks of natural hazards such as flooding.

7. There have been no previous events of this scale in North-East London. As a result, in October 2009 the MPS with the support of CgMs, a planning consultancy, began to assess sites in the locality. Details of the sites considered and the site selection procedure are contained in Annex H of the ED. This assessment concluded that Wanstead Flats "is the best site to meet operational requirements for a temporary MBDC to serve North East London", and "there are no other suitable and available sites that could perform this function materially better".[7]

8. The City of London Corporation have formally considered the proposal to utilise an area within Wanstead Flats and agreed in principle to its use for the Centre as a one-off for the Games. It has been agreed that the MPS will pay £170,000 to the Corporation for the use of the land, which will fund access, planting and landscaping improvements on the Flats. This sum is payment in lieu of rent, and is additional to the cost of making good the site which will be borne separately by the MPS. In a response to a written question from us, the Department explained that the sum was based on independent valuations and assessment of the area by Corporation of London and MPS surveyors.[8]

1   Epping Forest Act 1878, Preamble Back

2   www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/corporation/lgnl_services/environment_and_planning/parks_and_open_spaces/epping_forest Back

3   Annex, Q19 Back

4   A consultation paper on the proposed use of a Legislative Reform Order to permit a temporary Police Muster, Briefing and Deployment Centre on Wanstead Flats to support the 2012 Olympic Games, 16 September 2010, p7 (Home Office) Back

5   Responses to a consultation paper on the proposed use of a Legislative Reform Order to permit a temporary Police Muster, Briefing and Deployment Centre on Wanstead Flats to support the 2012 Olympic Games, 20 January 2011, p16 (Home Office) Back

6   Explanatory Document (ED), paragraph 1.1.4 Back

7   ED, Annex H, paragraphs 5.6, and 5.8 Back

8   Annex, Q16 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 6 May 2011