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Application for major event on Wanstead Flats: further detail for approval

Report of the Director of Open Spaces & Heritage.

Minutes:

Members considered a report of the Director of Open Spaces and Heritage concerning the Application for a major event on Wanstead Flats for approval. The following points were made:

 

·         The Head of Visitor Services advised that major event organisers MAMA & Company are proposing a series of large-scale music concerts to take place on Wanstead Flats during the summer of 2019. This was in accordance with the recently approved Open Spaces Events Policy Parts 1 and 2 and the City of London (Open Spaces) Act 2018.

 

·         Members were advised that proposals for two concert series were approved in principle by the Epping Forest and Commons Committee on 10 September 2018.

 

·         Members voiced a number of concerns regarding the scale of the six-day event, the impact and damage it would have on the Forest and wildlife, the impact on the local residents and the precedent this could set for encouraging similar sized events on the Forest in the future.  

 

·         Members were particularly concerned that the organiser did not have a good reputation and it was noted that there was a reason that the promoter was looking for a new location to host its events. It was clarified that this report was proposing a new event and not an existing event.

 

·         Friends of Wanstead Parklands were not against events in principle but were against this proposal as it contravened the rules on having an event on two consecutive weekends. There were also concerns regarding 1) the impact a large-scale and long duration event would have on the Forest and wildlife; 2) the limited consultation period and; 3) the negative track record of the promoters.

 

·         WREN Wildlife & Conservation made a statement opposing the proposal in full on the basis that 1) the Wansted Flats are an important location for bird nesting and breeding in London which would be disturbed by its close proximity to the event and could potentially have a permanent effect on wildlife in the area; 2) the scale of the event was not managed to mitigate damage concerns and a request for fencing to be inserted was declined. It was also noted that failure to protect the wildlife in the area would caused broad reputational damage to the City of London Corporation. 

 

·         It was noted that without long-term ecology surveys, there was not enough information to understand the impacts of such a large-scale event or how mitigate them.

 

·         A Member stated that there was a feeling in the community that the City of London Corporation did not liaise locally and asked if there was a need for greater promotion of its committees.   

 

·         The Head of Visitor Services stated that all feedback would be included in the report which would go the Epping Forest and Commons Committee for consideration. It was noted that full information regarding the event would not be received until there was certainty over the location.

 

·         Members were advised that concerns regarding safety, impact and the wilderness would be addressed by wilderness groups and safety advisory groups who would request environmental impact studies and due diligence to address resident’s concerns. The event organisers would also have to carry out wide public consultation as a licensing requirement and the Team would assist to ensure all relevant groups are included.

 

·         Members were advised that the planned location was non-ecological land within the football pitch footprint with low conservation value.

 

·         The Director of Open Spaces & Heritage highlighted the importance of consultation on the proposal occurring prior to the promoter seeking an event licence as this meant that concerns were taken seriously by the promoter who would have to prove that concerns could be resolved prior to getting a licence. It was noted that the Epping Forest and Commons Committee wanted to understand all concerns prior to making a formal decision.

 

·         To give context, the Director of Open Spaces & Heritage explained that the Forest was under financial stringency and this firm proposal from a promoter provided a good opportunity for the Forest to reach its annual efficiency costs. However, he maintained that this proposal was being fully evaluated and it would not be approved if the organisers could not address all concerns.

 

·         A Member requested that the Committee be provided with a skeleton of the decision-making which Members could bring to their organisations.

 

·         In response to a suggestion that the funds from this event be used on the Wansted Flats, a Member disagreed against ringfencing money from an event for one area stating that Epping Forest was one entity and that any funds should only ever be used where it was needed. This was supported by the Committee. 

  

 

RESOLVED - Members did not support the proposals outlined in this report.

Supporting documents:

 


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