The society is appealing to Lambeth Council not to allow another six-week long Winterville festival on Clapham Common in south London.
We consider it shocking that Winterville is planned to take place again, when the Common has still not recovered from the damage caused by last year’s festival. The so-called ‘events area’ on the common, on which Lambeth Council has allowed this and other major commercial events to take place, was closed off to the public for some five months from January onwards while attempts were made to restore the ground.
Now, in August the ground is still mainly bare compacted earth with minimal grass cover.
The council has been flooded with objections to the planning application for a repeat of the festival, which takes place in the run-up to Christmas. It has so far received 227 objections as against 52 representations in support.
The application is for ‘an ice rink, roller disco, cinema, indoor miniature golf, entertainment tents, fairground rides, catering and market stalls, production cabins, lighting and other associated structures including perimeter fencing, vehicular servicing’. Many objections have highlighted the folly of allowing this to take place on a grassed surface in winter, and have called for it to be moved to an area of hardstanding.
The succession of events taking place on this key part of the common—together with the periods necessary for set-up and derigging followed by extended periods to allow attempts to be made to repair the damage—is resulting in the public being denied access on an almost permanent basis.
The council has refused a request to reveal how much it receives for allowing the event, citing commercial confidentiality.
Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘We have told the council that the extent of commercial exploitation of Clapham Common is excessive causing unacceptable damage and denying access to common users for unacceptably long periods.’
The society’s local correspondent, Jeremy Clyne, adds: ‘We are deeply concerned about the degradation of the common. Right now it looks like a muddy desert and this weekend we have the huge SW4 music festival which is set to cause further devastation of this part of the common.’
Public comments on the application can be read on this link: https://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/files/1B382316D4D40E2D344EC8FD78C295CD/pdf/18_02758_RG4-PUBLIC_NEIGHBOUR_COMMENTS-2124840.pdf