2012 Organisers buy Blackheath?

I tweeted this story from The Telegraph yesterday, but I think it’s worth mentioning here, given that there is a local assembly tonight:

London 2012 Olympics: Games organisers purchase new Blackheath lease from Crown Estate for equestrian event

“London 2012 Olympic officials have purchased a Crown Estate lease on a pocket of land called Circus Field adjacent to the controversial Greenwich equestrian site after negotiations with three Government agencies.

But such is the confidential nature of the new agreement that the local Greenwich councillors will not be given a copy of the lease and the lease will not be registered with the Land Registry…. …it needs to be enclosed, which is forbidden by the relevant Metropolitan Commons Act of 1866 and the Supplemental Act for Blackheath of 1871.”

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18 Comments

Filed under blackheath, Olympics

18 responses to “2012 Organisers buy Blackheath?

  1. tom c

    link does not work

  2. Matthew Gough

    Hmmm. Seems the story has been removed from the Telegraph website.

    We know the Olympics organisers don’t give a hoot about local people and the local environment, but surely they wouldn’t plan something blatantly illegal and keep it covered up would they?

  3. Hmmm,not sure about this. The link you give doesn’t work (nice cartoon by Matt telling you though).

    Does ‘purchase a lease’ mean it is leasing Circus Field temporarily and paying for the right to do so? That would be logical as the use of Circus Field is in the original p[lanning application.

    Remember ‘lease’ means just that, it doesn;t mean they will own it.

    I can’t help but think there’s something fishy about the Telegraph story and that what is happening merely a bit of legal mumbo-jumbo. IE – They will use Circus Field temporarily under a lease permitting it to be enclosed and then return it.

    Or I could be utterly incorrect……

    • Indigo

      “Does ‘purchase a lease’ mean it is leasing Circus Field temporarily and paying for the right to do so? That would be logical as the use of Circus Field is in the original p[lanning application.”

      Logic doesn’t come into it. Circus Field is Metropolitan Common Land, and under the Supplemental Act of 1871 Greenwich Council has a duty not to permit any part of it to be enclosed.

      As you know, too, with a lease “temporary” can mean 999 years.

      “Remember ‘lease’ means just that, it doesn;t mean they will own it.”

      Hey, it depends what the lease says. But the ODA/LOCOG are not letting Greenwich Council or the Land Registry have copies of the lease. The lease could say that the ODA and then some named successor holds the lease in perpetuity and can under-lease it to be built upon. Or the lease may say that the ODA is buying the lease for £1 but does not have to sell it back at the same price or can put it up for sale for the highest price. To offset the cost of the Olympics, say.

  4. Indigo

    Story is still there on the Telegraph web site. Lots of tweets.

    The ODA claims that the Localism Act 2011 empowers them to acquire a lease/under-lease to Circus Field. It does not. Like the Olympics Act 2006, the Localism Act 2011 refers only to “commons, open spaces and allotments”. Metropolitan Common Land is not an implied term.

    “Localism Act 2011
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/20/notes
    Section 193: Transfer schemes: general provisions
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/20/section/193/enacted
    Section 193 makes general provision about transfer schemes that the Secretary of State may make to transfer property, rights and liabilities of the Homes and Communities Agency and London Development Agency. General provision includes provision applying the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 to contracts of employment transferred by a transfer scheme (whether or not they would otherwise be transferred under those Regulations). It also allows provision to be made in a transfer scheme to enable section 36(3)(c) of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 to continue to apply to any land transferred: this is to ensure no enactment regulating the use of commons, open spaces or allotments prevents or restricts the use, for Olympic purposes, of land transferred.”

    My worry is that the leases would show that the ODA did not have to sell the lease back, that they would instead sell Circus Field to developers. It must be worth a king’s ransom. “Heath View” luxury apartments, at £2 million each?

  5. Mo

    On a side note, Lewisham Council have cancelled their popular “People’s Day” in Mountsfield Park, because they want to focus on the Live Site on Blackheath..

    The shame of this is that People’s Day is a big fund raiser for many local charities – especially around Lewisham Central. You can bet they will not be allowed within 100 miles of the precious Olympic events. Many of the people who attend are not likely to travel over to Blackheath to enjoy overpriced food and drink.

    I understand the Council have priorities but it seems so much is being sacrificed on the altar of the Olympics. All this money wasted & funding lost for a 3 weeks sports show. (I remain doubtful about any legacy…)

  6. henttyg

    Why the opaque deal? For those who think ‘the worriers’ are cranks…if you don’t investigate every twist and turn of the uses of the Heath you’ll find yourself with no Heath to quibble about. Protect this great multi-community ammenity from greed and abuse by commercial interests!

  7. I really do not think that we will be seeing mansions blossoming on the Heath after the Olympics.

    I totally agree on the lack of clarity about the lease though, it just un-necessarily stirs up worries that you have voiced.

    These people just don’t get it sometimes.

    I admit I’m assuming that the lease doesn’t contain a clause allowing mansions to be built on Circus Field, but even if it did there’s no way it would be allowed

    • Franklin

      Hear hear. While it’s frustrating that LOCOG are yet again shooting themselves in the foot by keeping the lease and sub-lease secret, it’s simply preposterous to suggest that LDA would ever consider selling the lease on Circus Field to developers – and it’s a nine-month lease, for bleedin’ sake! – or that planning permission would ever be sought, much less granted, for building on this part of the heath. Yet more scaremongering histrionics from the anti camp.

      • Indigo

        “it’s a nine-month lease, for bleedin’ sake!”

        You should not believe everything you read in the newspapers. LOCOG have signed a 12-month tenancy – under lease – so the lease itself is must be longer than 12 months.

      • These are all excellent questions to raise tonight, and over the weekend!

  8. Anonymous

    No mention of the lease in the first half of the Assembly [I had to leave early].
    One interesting snippet did emerge about the Live carnival, though. The estimated cost will be £150,000 – £175,000 – enough to gobble up the provision for People’s Day. Under normal circumstances Lewisham could claw back much of that through commercial partnership deals [several offers were made] buts its hands are tied by LOCOG’s ban on money-making tied to the Olympics.

  9. Indigo

    Circus Field is Crown land. Crown land has not been exempt from planning law for many years. Even if the “Crown body” organising the planning application happens to be the Crown Estate.

    That means that ODA/LOCOG should have submitted an application to Greenwich Council that included detail of what they wanted to use Circus Field for, with plans; and an Environmental Impact Assessment is not optional. Even when the “development site” is not a Site of Nature Conservation of Metropolitan Importance. Which Circus Field is.

    But they didn’t. And Greenwich Council planning department went along with the pretence that Crown land was still exempt from planning law. That’s a pretty big thing to pretend – lie – about.

    Last night’s planning board decision should be called in, I believe, because:

    (a) even after last night, Greenwich Council are no nearer – no one is any nearer – knowing the real maximum safe capacity of Greenwich Park for the purposes of the Olympics (ie as assessed by experts in the fire authorities working with all the information about the temporary structures and electrified fencing); and

    (b) planning law has not been complied with, in the matter of Circus Field being used for the purposes of the Olympics.

  10. Today I noticed that a tarmac road has been laid in the circus field…pretty difficult to put that back to its original state..also the ground is covered with large concrete slabs, allowing no aeration to the soil which will undoubtedly leave the soil ruined for many years into the future. Is this just a way for Greenwich council to so damage the site that it can start to build houses down the line…
    I Have known the heath for many decades, and I am horrified by what I witnessed today. If this is illegal surely there should be some kind of challenge, or at least an assurance to return the heath to its former state, or better.
    Thousands of years in the making, and yet for 2 weeks of flag waving we have to watch vandals destroy one of our last open spaces.
    I trust the society is already engaged in this matter and Id like to know what is happening in that respect.

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