Saturday, 4 October 2008

Arena Fields - in the Olympic Legacy?

Those of us in Leabank Square who signed & took the Arena Fields petition - all those years ago now - to John Prescott's office - will be even more worried by how the Olympics are handling our Arena Fields!!

For the newer residents - Arena Fields was the beautiful, large, green, luscious park directly over the canal from us - that was stolen from us by Act Of Parliament - to give to the Olympics.

But before that - we were trying to get some regeneration going behind Arena Fields - where the old Hackney Dog Stadium and some dodgy religious buildings were. We had a long period of correspondence with the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions headed by John Prescott, MP.

He would not commit to any regeneration for years, delaying & no-commenting for so long that we began to feel that something else was afoot. Then came along an Act of Parliament to take this beautiful park - that was given to the people of London in 1894 - all properly registered as Common Land and Metropolitan Open Space - and for their enjoyment and recreation and that to be "in perpetuity"!

Many of our residents in Leabank Square planted trees all around the border with the Hackney Environment Forum ( - and on their own. Directly opposite Leabank Square there we planted figs, cherries, apples, bananas and a stunning wildflower meadow. All that has been demolished - but we always knew that could happen.

We have been promised that a small part of Arena Fields will be returned to a green playing field - directly opposite Leabank Square - as part of the legacy. The time has come to start signing petitions, and visiting MP's again - in order to make sure that this happens!!

Leabank Square must start putting EXTREME pressure on the Olympic Delivery Authority to make sure that this smaller bit of Arena Fields is not lost to ANY type of development!

We will be discussing this at the next meeting - and will then start a campaign of action - giving about a hundred suits a very big headache - until they promise to keep their promise!!

For more historical information on Arena Fields - please see:

Please feel free to add any comment about this blog entry! Simply click ‘comments’ below & you can tell us all what you think. You can use your own name, a pseudonym, be anonymous, or even join blogger yourself. The more we all discuss Leabank Square – the more we all feel part of it!!


Mary said...

Hi Sóna

I absolutely agree!!

There was a report of a university being located 'south of the Media Centre' - which sounds suspiciously like the area right opposite us!!

Is there any way you can get Meg Hillier to make an enquiry on our behalf?

We desperately need this last bit of our long loved Arena Fields to revert back to green space.


pete said...

Hi Sóna

I am VERY worried about the tiny bit of land that is supposed to be turned back into a park oppoosite us as part of the legacy!

There has been absolutely no mention of it for about a year now. I hope that just because they haven't said anything - they're hoping that we've forgotten about it.

The joke that they gave us a REAP million (or so they say) to compensate for the loss of Arena Fields cannot stretch as far as the small bit left over. Not for a uni, a church, a warehouse or even a tesco!!

We WILL fight it!


Geoffrey said...

Hello Sóna

You brought back fond (& frustrating) memories of hounding 2 jags Prezza for an answer!!

We have got to get our green back. There is NO WAY they must be allowed to steal the last bit of greenery away from us!!

I am writing to Meg Hillier, Jeanette Arnold, Boris Johnson and Lord Paul today. Please let me know if there is anyone else you think I should bother as well.


Su said...

Hello Sóna

I was very worried when I saw the article on the Chinese University. We cannot allow our promised piece of Arena Fields to be built on - no matter what benefits the planners say will come of it!!

There is no substitute for grass!!


Su said...

Hello Sóna

I was very worried when I saw the article on the Chinese University. We cannot allow our promised piece of Arena Fields to be built on - no matter what benefits the planners say will come of it!!

There is no substitute for grass!!


Laura said...

There is a real chance Sóna, that the ODA will get Parliament to pass another bill to get hold of the last bit of land in order to build on.

We must NEVER let that happen. I urge everyone in Leabank Square to write to as many influential people as possible.

I know of 7 residents in Wick Village that have already written to Gordon Brown about this.

Please get active NOW!


Leabank Square said...

Hey Sóna - did you see that the very last tree from the Childrens Meadow was chopped down this morning?

They waited until you guys had finnished filming with the BBC, then as you cycled out the Square, they made their move!!

You know I could ring Prescots neck sometimes!! He's supposed to be one of the people and all that, but he sold us down the river when he messed up Arena Fields!!

I cannot stand to see all our hard work over the years just bulldozed down in a couple of minutes!

You know all this meltdown of the legacy stuff?

Surely this means that they can give us ALL of Arena Fields back now?

I mean if the Media Centre is going to be folded up & packed away, can't they just give us our park back?


Jazz said...

Hey Sóna

Could you please send an email to your conacts in Hackney Town Hall's Legacy Dept - and ask them what they know about any legacy changes.

We can't keep relying on the ODA's leaks to the Boris Standard each week.

Surely someone in in the Town Hall MUST know something?


Douglas said...


Have you done that Freedom of Information request on the REAP expenditure yet?

Remember - we were supposed to get that £1 million as compensation for losing Arena Fields.

What have they spent it on?


Anonymous said...

Any promises are worthless unless you've got them on a legally binding piece of paper. I remember LDDC promising us that we would all be able to return to houses that were going to be built on our old site and we would all have our own gardens. Of course the land was far too valuable to let a mere promise stand in the way of doing what they wanted with the land and moving us on. Absolutely insist that any promise is on a piece of paper that you can get checked over by a lawyer. They'll still wriggle out of it, but it will cost them a bit more time and energy.