Enfield Island Village

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 in July 2014

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.

Water tow­er, Enfield Island Vil­lage*

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.

Lat­er there were issues with the gov­er­nance of the Enfield Island Vil­lage Trust – and in 2014 the Char­i­ty Com­mis­sion stepped in to con­duct an inves­ti­ga­tion. In 2016 a new gov­ern­ing doc­u­ment was adopt­ed and a new board of trustees was elect­ed.

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
* The pictures of the canal Boat in the Village and the water tower on this page are both adapted from original photographs, copyright Des Blenkinsopp, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.