Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Greenwich Park Licence Outcome

Greenwich Council's Licensing Committee recently received 28 letters of objection to an application by the Royal Park for an almost 'carte blanche' extension to their 'event's licence. This included quite strong objections from both the Friends of Greenwich Park and the Greenwich Society.

The Licensing Committee reached a decision on April 22nd which reflects a high degree of nimbyism, and which should be of particular concern to the residents of western side of the Westcombe Park area.

For reasons which are not clear, many residents at the western end of the park seemed to have received letters from the Council containing much more information than the notice attached to the Park railings, which was all many at the eastern end of the Park had to go on. This might explain the relative lack of objections from the Westcombe area, as may the fact that the eastern end suffered less from the problem with late-night film events in 2004. The decision effectively states:

1. Residents reside on three sides of the Park
2. Residents suffered noise nuisance when two outdoor films were shown in Greenwich Park in 2004
3 The Park accepts that the showing of both films caused a noise nuisance to residents.

It has nevertheless sought, and been granted permission to show seven (7), instead of two (2), films but in the area to the south of the Bandstand - more distant from the northern and western homes, but a clear threat to Westcombe Park residents.

A greater noise nuisance will thus be caused, but to a different group of residents, viz., those living in the Westcombe area. In the summer, residents of Vanbrugh Fields can hear the (unamplified) sound of bands playing at the Bandstand on a Sunday afternoon. That is not considered objectionable. However, highly amplfied sound until nearly midnight from film shows like those that caused so much nuisance in 2004 is a very different situation.

One feature of the application was rejected. Many residents (including the Friends and Greenwich Society) pointed out that the films were scheduled to end after the last train had left Maze Hill, creating a powerful incentive for the audience to try to come by car. The Committee therefore specified a 23.30 ending, which means people who run from the Bandstand area might just catch the last train.

There are 21 days (from 22 April) for appeals. Unfortunately, those who appeal against the decision might have to pay the Park Agency's costs if the appeal is unsuccessful, so it is not an option for individuals.

It seems that the seven film shows a year may be additional to the seven major events that are also permitted. A major event is defined as one with an audience of up to 20,000 - c.f. the O2 Dome Arena (23,000) and Charlton's Valley Stadium (27,000). The parking implications could therefore become overwhelming.

Any comments?


Vanbrugh said...

For western read southern (Charlton Way) end and for eastern reads northern (Park Vista) end.

Eeyore said...

I'm afraid I have to disagree. There *are* no houses on the Charlton Way (south) side of the Park, and the primary issue in this Blog is with potential noise nuisance to Westcombe Park residents, not to those on the north or west of the Park.

The main issue is that changes have been made to last year's arrangement in licence application which aim to alleviate the noise issue for those affected last time without due regard having been given to proper information provision to residents to the East of the Park about this new application.

It is our view that Park Vista residents will now be least affected of all as they are furthest away from the proposed performance area.

Eeyore said...

The Society has now received a very helpful phone call from a Council officer about the Greenwich Park Licensing application.

It was explained that the Council had sent details of the application only to those living within 100 metres of the park. Therefore, at some points of the compass (e.g. Vanbrugh Fields, Parkside) even the houses closest to the Park were not informed although they were clearly within the noise 'contour'.

They consider it very important that if local residents suffer noise nuisance, they should contact the noise team so that the problem could be checked at the time it was happening.

It was pointed out that the date of the first of the Stella Artois film shows (which had caused so much problem in 2004) was already known (22 and 23 July) so the noise team could easily arrange to visit and monitor noise levels (whose impact will depend on wind direction).

It was confirmed that the Council would not be writing to those living in the vicinity (except perhaps the small number living within 100 metres of the Park) to let them know the complaint number.

The point that as a number of housholds do not receive Greenwich Time, The Mercury or NewsShopper, we were very dependent on Westcombe News for public information of this kind was accepted. They will therefore be providing suitable information for an article in Westcombe News explaining what was going to happen. This would allow people to prepare accordingly - they will presumable not wish to arrange to have events in their garden that evening and parents will want to ensure children's bedroom windows are closed). Since the Park will close after the last train there are also likely to be parking problems.

The Council contact number is (020) 8921 8162.

Sandra said...

Are we supposed to live in a total bubble? This park is for the use of everyone and I don't see what the big deal is about creating special events a few times a year for local people that make this place a community, not a group of little hermetically sealed units which never interact. I applaud the coming of the occasional event that's open for all and serves to brighten people's lives. It's not every weekend - it's occasional. I live near a school and a park which occasionally have events. They make a fair amount of noise and they're not events to which I've been invited but for god's sake, let's live and let live. We live in a city - a vibrant, exciting city - and part of the deal is to live with and alongside others.

Eeyore said...

I, personally, basically completely agree with Sandra. However there are members of the Society that were very concerned with the fact that regardless of what may be planned in reality, the actual wording of the original application would have permitted unlimited events in the Park withot recourse to further specific licence applications which would at least theoretically have been the case in the past.

As has already been pointed out though, both the reality of the demand for events, and the fact that as a Royal Park there is/was no obligation on the part of the Royal Park to apply for a licence in the first place has been glossed over.