Plans for more Marsh events on scale of Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend met with furore
PUBLISHED: 12:58 11 March 2013 | UPDATED: 13:22 11 March 2013
Proposals to hold major public events on Hackney Marshes every summer on the scale of last year’s Radio 1 mega Hackney Weekend pop concert have again been met with furore.
Last year when the council’s parks and green spaces events policy was changed to give approval for three major events a year on the marshes, cynical opponents labelled the move a money-spinner for the cash-strapped council.
Before the plans can become a reality, consent must be obtained by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS), and the council is currently consulting local residents.
Should they be given the go-ahead, events could be held between May 1 and August 31 and permission would last for five years.
Footballers and cricketers were devastated after Radio 1’s Hackney Weekender last June because their pitches were ruined by lorries setting up stages for the pop concert, which saw more than 100,000 people trampling over the land.
Cricketers were forced to call off the season after some of their brand new £750,000 pitches were destroyed, and questioned whether more events of the same kind would threaten the future of cricket on the site.
The council picked up the tab for £195,000 instead of splitting it with the BBC, after it was decided the damage was not outside the normal wear and tear expected from such an event.
Nature lovers were also upset that the Marshes were closed off to the public for a whole month before the concert to allow time for construction of the stages.
Tim Evans, from Hackney Marsh User Group (HMUG) said: “The obvious questions are whether the council can manage such events without disproportionate loss of the use of the marshes to local people, and without lasting damage to the marshes’ ecological value and amenities.
“On the evidence of last year’s Radio 1 Hackney Weekend their ability is questionable.
“It closed off large parts of the marsh for four weeks and the scars are visible and possibly permanent.”
Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture, said: “Hackney Council wants to build on the success of the Hackney Weekend which was enjoyed by thousands of local people, making a positive impact on Hackney’s economy.”
There will be a drop-in event to find out more about the plans on Wednesday April 17, from 4pm to 8pm, at the Hackney Marshes Centre in Homerton Road. The consultation ends on April 23.
n For more information see www.hackney.gov.uk/hackneymarshes
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