London 2012 plans to use land at Blackheath as part of their planning application are unlawful and Greenwich Council do not have the power to even "entertain" the proposal, a local pressure group has claimed.
London 2012 submitted their planning application to Greenwich Council in December and it contained proposals to make use of the Circus Field at Blackheath with a fenced compound to house canteens, horse boxes, stables and training areas. But NOGOE (No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events) claim that two laws dating back to the 19th century will make this impossible.
A retired solicitor, Lionel Lewis, and local historial, Neil Rhind, have carried out research into whether use of the land would be permssable, and claim that enclosure of the land is prohibited generally, and those managing the Heath only have the power to install an enclosure for the "shortest period of time for the purpose only of repair of the grasses".
The two laws they say will 'scupper LOCOG's plans' are the Metropolitan Commons Act 1866 and the Supplemental Act for Blackheath of 1871
The Metropolitan Commons Act 1866 states:
The Commissioners shall not entertain an application for the inclosure of a metropolitan common under the control and management of a London borough council, or any part thereof; . . . and notwithstanding any proceedings taken under any Act other than this Act, or any provisional order of the Commissioners made but not already confirmed by Act of Parliament, proceedings may be taken under this Act in relation to any metropolitan common.”
Blackheath was then designated as a "metropolitan common" in the Supplemental Act for Blackheath of 1871.
NOGOE’s Coordinator, John Hine commented:
“We are most impressed with the careful research that has been carried out by Lionel and Neil. They have developed what seems to be an unarguable case, which we expect the Council to endorse. We always said that Greenwich Park was too small and since LOCOG are unable to use Circus Field, it should do the decent thing and take the events to a venue which does have the space, but not the fantastic heritage that they wish to destroy at Greenwich."
A spokesperson for LOCOG told Greenwich.co.uk
"We disagree with what NOGOE/Lionel Lewis says about the use of Blackheath. The legal provisions that NOGOE has pointed to have nothing to do with Greenwich Council's ability to consider our planning
application. Greenwich Council has confirmed that it will be considering our planning application in the normal way
We will of course be seeking any necessary consent for the use of the land in due course.
We have gone into a huge amount of detail about in our planning application about all our proposals, and we would not have submitted this if we believed it was not legally sound
We have confirmed that Greenwich Park will not be closed for more than four weeks at Games time and that we will return Greenwich Park to The Royal Parks in the state in which we received it. The use of Blackheath is nothing to do with the claim that Greenwich Park is too small, it is all about operational use and causing less disruption to the Park itself."