The Broxbourne White Water Canoe Centre, the intended venue for the white water canoe and kayak slalom events in the London 2012 Olympic Games, received planning approval at a meeting of the Broxbourne Council Planning and Licensing Committee last night (Tuesday 30 September).

The scheme proposes both elite and intermediate white water canoe, kayak and rafting facilities.  The elite and intermediate levels would each have their own separate course loop and start pool.  Both loops finishing in a substantial lake to the north eastern part of the facility. There will be a two storey, 2100m3 facilities building encompassing changing rooms, admin, equipment storage, cafe and accommodation for the British Canoe Union (BCU) who will use the facility as a HQ.

The white water elite course will have a fall of 5.5 metres, the intermediate course 1.6 metres.  The course itself will be a concrete channel with impermeable liner, the obstacles a combination of natural rock, concrete and moveable plastic units.

Approval was seen as a momentous occasion for Broxbourne by the committee and the positive vote was greeted by spontaneous applause in the council chamber.

The passage of approval had to negotiate several “stoppers”.  Concerns were raised in the chamber by a representative from Essex County Council regarding traffic on some local roads, conditions will be imposed on the planning consent. Concerns were also raised about the lack of car parking for a venue that may well be a venue for national and international events. Approval has the condition that any event to be held at the venue, which will attract more than 500 visitors, will require an Event Management Plan to be submitted to the Local Planning Authority for approval in writing.

Car Parking may certainly be a problem for major events, there being provision for only 119 cars.  Of these 42 will be dedicated to the elite white water canoe centre, 24 public spaces and the remaining 53 spaces will be overflow spaces in grass bays along the access drive. However it was recognised that it would not be financially viable to increase permanent provision on site for situations that will occur infrequently.  The Olympics will only be using the venue for 4 days it was suggested.

Hours of use agreed as part of the consent are:
Monday to Saturday 8am to 11pm
Sundays, Bank and Public Holidays 10am to 8pm

Whilst approval does not mean the centre will operate throughout these times, the floodlighting will mean that it can be used in the evenings.

Locals concerned about disruption during the building phase will note that building hours are limited to 8am to 6pm weekdays and 8am to 1pm Saturday.

Six letters of comment had been received from adjacent owners / occupiers.  Three were in support with three objecting.

The concerns raised were:

  • Public access to the marshes would be restricted and the marshes spoilt
  • The Lee Valley Regional Park is obsessed with tarmac paths
  • The facility would totally change the area
  • A right of way would be affected
  • Transport links with the area are not good enough for the Olympic visitor numbers
  • The course would be unsightly and damaging to the environment
  • There would be extra traffic cluttering towns in the Lee Valley
  • The green quite areas in Broxbourne would be reduced
  • The construction seems very close to Westminster Court, Eleanor Way.

Support welcomed the social and environmental benefits to the Waltham Cross area.  The landscape to be created and the new pedestrian routes, as well as increased visitor numbers to the Regional Park and nearby visitor attractions.

It is estimated that the facility will bring up to £12 million of additional revenue to local businesses per annum.

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