Enfield Island Village, Enfield

A ‘flagship devel­opment of regional signi­ficance,’ according to the government at the time of its inception, built on a 100-​​acre flood plain beside the River Lea

Enfield Island Village when it was brand new

Occupying the former site of the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield Island Village was built from 1997 to 2003 by Fairview New Homes between the River Lea (or Lee) and the Cattlegate Flood Relief Channel. 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 initially 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limit on the number of homes that could be built before shops and community services were provided, but this was later withdrawn.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.

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 soil 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.

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
Website: Enfield Island Village Trust (not often updated)
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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