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Enfield Island Village

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A ‘flagship’ development of ‘regional significance’, according to the government, built from 1997 to 2003 by Fairview New Homes on a 100-acre flood plain lying between the River Lea and the Cattlegate Flood Relief Channel. The site was formerly occupied by the Royal Small Arms Factory. Some original buildings have been retained and the design incorporates a network of waterways, creating a habitat for waterfowl. There are distinct neighbourhoods within the village, each with its own architectural variations. The council originally imposed a limit on the number of homes that could be built before shops and community services were provided, but this was later withdrawn. The developers also increased housing density from their original proposals, with a higher proportion of social accommodation, including some that went to asylum seekers. Enfield Island Village featured prominently in a 2000 investigation by the BBC TV programme Panorama into housing developments on contaminated land. It reported that a survey had found traces of toxic chemicals and metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic and copper. The land has been ‘remediated’ by capping with a layer of clay to prevent contaminants leaching to the surface but there have been stories of children suffering dermatological problems after playing in their back gardens, and residents have been warned not to dig more than three feet down.

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There was further disquiet when Enfield’s chief planning officer left to join Fairview. The borough subsequently convened a special panel to investigate the various allegations surrounding the project, which were refuted as “unsubstantiated rumours.” However, “robust and permanent monitoring” of the site was recommended for the future and the report was narrowly adopted by the council.

Postcode area: Enfield, EN3
Further reading: Paul de Zylva et al, Unsafe as Houses: Urban Renaissance or Toxic Timebomb?, Friends of the Earth & Enfield Lock Action Group, 2000

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