Biodiversity and major events

Comments to Lambeth from Helen Firmiger on the effects of events on biodiversity and on Lambeth’s responsibilities

RE Brockwell Park Events Strategy 2018

I am writing to express concern over Lambeth’s events strategy for Brockwell Park, and to point out certain legal and statutory issues regarding biodiversity, which appear to have been omitted in putting together this strategy and current proposals. If I have missed any separate information which covers the points below, I would be grateful to see a copy.

1) Biodiversity Duty As you will be aware there is a duty on local authorities and other public bodies to take account of biodiversity in your plans and services, as specified in Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. ‘Public authorities should consider how wildlife or land may be affected in all the decisions that they make.’ You will also be aware that Brockwell Park is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) Borough Grade 1 in your local plan. The entire park is designated and the Biodiversity duty unquestionably applies. Further information on the Biodiversity duty is here: Unfortunately, I cannot see any place that Lambeth has taken account of this, there appears to be no mention of ecology in your Event Strategy for parks, or in the current proposals for Brockwell Park.

2) Lambeth’s own commitment to Borough SINCs. This is how Lambeth describes Sites of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation on its planning policy website. ‘These are sites which are important on a borough perspective in the same way as the Metropolitan sites are important to the whole of London. Although sites of similar quality may be found elsewhere in London, damage to these sites would mean a significant loss to the borough. As with Metropolitan sites, while protection is important, management of borough sites should usually allow and encourage their enjoyment by people and their use for education. Further information on SINCs can be found in our Local Plan, in particular policy EN1.’ Lambeth appears to be proposing two events which would cause damage to Brockwell Park, hence in its own words initiating a significant loss to the borough. Even more significantly, the proposals being considered deny access to a substantial portion of this site, an even more significant loss to the borough.

3) Policy issues around access: education, mental health, equality   To focus on a line from Lambeth’s summary of the relevance of a Borough SINC (full paragraph above): ‘…while protection is important, management of borough sites should usually allow and encourage their enjoyment by people and their use for education.’

3a) These sites should clearly be open to the public and schools. It seems ludicrous that Lambeth itself might then consider denying its residents access to large parts of this valuable site, for some of the most important months of the year.

3b) Lambeth will be aware of its own issues around mental health. It is now widely recognised across public health bodies that access to quality green space provides positive benefits to mental health, and also fights obesity, for residents. Public Health England recognises the need for protection of green space, for example gives an example intervention in its Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health: Prevention planning resource for local areas: ‘Create and protect green spaces within neighbourhoods to generate better physical and mental health outcomes for individuals and communities. Accessing green spaces can not only encourage physical activity but other benefits such as greater community cohesion and less social isolation; opportunities for meaningful volunteering experiences;’

3c) Furthermore there is an equality issue here. Research has repeatedly shown that urban green spaces are particularly important to black and ethnic minority residents, who in many cases, find it harder to access nature in the countryside. The Design Council, for example investigated this issue in Urban Green Nation and Community Green. In summary research revealed: ‘in areas where more than 40 per cent of residents are black or minority ethnic there is 11 times less green space than in areas where residents are largely white. And the spaces they do have are likely to be of a poorer quality. Although where you live and the services you receive is intimately related to income, our research found a difference, by ethnicity, that was over and above what would be expected for level of income alone.’

‘Providing good-quality green space is a hugely effective way to tackle these inequalities. Green space has been proven to reduce the impact of deprivation, deliver better health and wellbeing and create a strong community. The simple presence of green space is related to a reduced risk of serious problems like depression and lung disease. Living close to green space reduces mortality, which can help reduce the significant gap in life expectancy between rich and poor.’

4) Legal issues relevant to species present

4a) Bat species recorded include Pippistrelle, Noctule, Daubentons, Leislers, and Serotonine, all of which are from protected by law from disturbance. 4b) Bird species recorded include House Sparrow, Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Whinchat, Common Redstart, Redwing, Meadow Pipit, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Swift, Swallow, House Martin. All of these are protected from disturbance during their nesting season (peak period February to July), legally protected until August. According to Government guidance, ‘These activities can affect wild birds, particularly during breeding season: • trimming or cutting trees, bushes, hedges and rough vegetation • renovating, converting or demolishing a building • creating disturbance, eg noise, lighting and vibration’

5) Other species of concern: While not legally protected, the Council has the aforementioned Biodiversity duty to pay regard to all wildlife here, which contribute in its own way to our mental health and our children’s development. Habitats here include: • Grasslands and meadows, where a range of grasshoppers, butterflies and other invertebrates are found in late spring and summer. These grasslands, as seen during the Lambeth Country Show, are at significant risk of trampling by event visitors, by event traffic, or potentially, through increased pressure from displaced park visitors by the fencing off of a significant patch of the site. • Mature trees, which should be protected • Ponds and lakes, containing sensitive waterfowl, invertebrates and fish. • Shrubberry and hedges, significant for small birds, and dominant along the Herne Hill side of the park The grasslands would certainly be affected by any increase in festivals, particularly in summer. It is less clear whether other areas would be affected by large festivals, however they should still be fully surveyed and damage avoided by Lambeth before taking any action.

5) Capacity and Seasonality We already have one major event regularly held in this nature site of Borough importance. The Lambeth Country Show, while causing some damage, is to a certain extent appropriate for this site, this is because: • It promotes access to nature: It gives all our city children and adults a rare chance to encounter farm animals, horses, horticulture, crazy plants, wildlife charities, vegetable personalities, falconry and bee hives. • It is freely open to all • It is held relatively late in the year, in July. This allows a certain range of wildlife to get through the active spring element of their lifecycle, including birds fledging, and grasshoppers hatching and mating. It was previously held in August, which is to be honest, a better time for it. • It does not involve any disturbance at night.

6) Recommendations: These are complex issues and I am sure you will discuss these with your own professionals and take legal advice on how best to follow your duties and avoid breaking the law. If any future festivals are to be held in the park, these in themselves should follow the principles above.

• The festival should be late in the year (after mid July).

• It should promote nature

• It should be freely open to all.

• It should not involve disturbance at night. In planning and assessing event applications, the Council should take account of the following:

• Ecology should be considered, surveyed and steps set out to protect it

• Particular consideration should be given to the fragile grasslands.

• Legal issues around birds and bats should be considered

• Cumulative impacts of more than one event should be assessed • Impact on local communities and their health should be assessed

• Equality issues around impact on mental health should be assessed.

Lambeth should celebrate Brockwell Park as a significant natural asset for all communities. This should be a starting point in any event strategy for the park. Until these are dealt with in a sensible and transparent manner, I strongly object to any plans to increase festivals in the park, and object to the plans for Lovebox and Field Day.

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Lambeth’s consultation process explained….

This explanation of the process for applications to hold events in Lambeth’s parks was received from Lee Fiorentino, Director of Lambeth Events:

As per the Councils events policy outlined in the Events Guide, the event application process is set out in 4 stages which all event applicants must meet in order to be granted approval to move to each stage and then to the final stage 4 permission to use Council land for an event.

All applications are added on a weekly basis to the Events Programme Calendar spread sheet which is then emailed weekly to Park Management Advisory Committees, Friends of Parks, key external stakeholders, Council staff, ward councillors and local MPs. This gives interested parties regular weekly opportunities to request further information from the events team should they require it on a particular proposed event listed. All event applications can be approved or rejected at any stage of the event application process and so not permit to proceed any further through the process.

Detailed below sets out the event application process and timelines which is set out in out Events Guide for your information.

Events Application Process
• Stage 1 – Operational and Technical Assessment of Event Applications. Once submitted to us these can take up to 10 working days or even 4 weeks for larger events to process depending the level of technical and operational assessment needed by the events team to approve it to proceed to Stage 2 of the event application process.
• Stage 2 – Safety Assessment by Lambeth Events Safety Advisory Group (LESAG) remember this is only for large and major events, so smaller ones normally fast track through this process.
• Stage 3 – Local Community & Ward Councillor Engagement. We want to make sure as many local people as possible are aware of you event and we give them around 3 weeks to comment or raise any concerns to us on an event application. For small and medium low risk events this is a notification to local community groups & ward councillors of the event taking place via our calendar.
• Stage 4 – Final Assessment and Decision to grant the Park or Street – Event Permit. Once you have your permit we help to support and promote the event in a variety of ways on our Events website, through our social media networks and community links.

Event Application Timescales
Aligned with the above protocols are also event guidelines and timescales of which all event applicants have to adhere to for their applications. These are highlighted in our events guide and our events application forms. For major events (20,000+ people) the application must be made at least twelve months in advance.

The current statuses for the event applications for both Lovebox and Field Day are that they are at Stage 3 Community Engagement until 21 January. Following this we will be collating the feedback, comments and responses to the events service for inclusion within the Event Proformas so that the lead Cabinet Member and Director can make their assessment and final decision on granting permits for these two events. I understand that you have already sent back the feedback to this from the BPCP and this will be included for the assessment.

Stage 3   Local community and ward councillor engagement for large or major events is a period of time set aside for the Lambeth event staff and the Large or Major event applicant to engage with the BPCP and local ward councillors. We do this formally using an event proforma document which is then circulated to the BPCP for input and we also look to set up a time that is convenient for the BPCP and the event organisers to do a formal presentation on the event. (This is not always possible – Ed)

It is only once a positive decision has been made by the Lead Cabinet Member and the Director of Environment to grant a Park Event Permit that the applicants will go on to apply for a premises licence. If the decision is to refuse the permit then there would of course be no point in the applicants trying to obtain a premises licence. If the permit was granted, however, the licence applications would only go to the Licensing Sub-Committee in the event of relevant representations being made against the applications. If no representations were made against the application then they must be granted by officers under delegated powers. I would add, for the sake of completeness, that there might also need to be an application for planning permission for all Brockwell Park events, which would be considered separately.

Only when all the licences and permissions are in place and we have a final acceptance from the LESAG members do we actually issue the permit to use the park as we continue to follow our process right up to the events. This process can be very lengthy for large and major events.

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Events, deadline for consultation extended to 21st Jan

Received from Lee Fiorentino, director of Events and applies to both applications, LoveBox and Field Day

This is formal notification that the event pro-forma Stage 3 community engagement process for the Field Day event, which started on the 20 November 2017 was for 3 weeks and scheduled to end on the 11 December 2017. However to take in to account the increased interest in this event and the holiday period we decided to extend the community engagement from 3 weeks to 9 weeks which means the final deadline date for responding back with comments to the Events team will be 21 January 2018. Please can you ensure you have sent all your feedback, comments and any concerns to us by Sunday 21 January 2018. The final Stage 4 decision to grant the Park Event Permit will be decided week commencing the 29 January 2018.

Lambeth Events say that once the Park Permit decisions are made at the end of January the Event Licence applications for LoveBox and Field Day will be submitted, probably during the first week in February. There follows a 28 day formal consultation period during which the views of the statutory consultees (e.g. Police) will be considered. There is no reason why the general public may not make their own submissions before the deadline at the beginning of March. All the submissions have to be put before the Licensing Committee. The form can be accessed here

Your submission has to address Lambeth’s Licensing objectives:

1. Prevention of crime and disorder

2. Public safety

3. Prevention of public nuisance

4. Protection of children from harm (moral protection, that is)

 

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Opposition to the events proposals for Brockwell Park in 2018

Lambeth councillors and officers have been taken by surprise by the strength of community feeling about the proposals. They will continue to take comments from the public during January. If people still wish to send in their views they can be submitted to the event operations team; events@lambeth.gov.uk; to the Cabinet member: swinifred@lambeth.gov.uk or other local councillors.

BPCP is still sending on any comments received at our email address brockwellparkcommunitypartners@gmail.com, although not those which have  already been sent direct to councillors or Lambeth Events.

A public meeting has been called for 18th January, 7.30pm at the Herne Hill Baptist Church for local residents to put their views to and question LoveBox and Field Day organisers.  More details at Brixton Buzz.

 

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Festivals 2018?

Lambeth are reviewing applications from two large event companies, LoveBox and Field Day for two major events in the park in 2018, both over three days with up to 40,000 attendees per day. Since the news spread about these proposals a spontaneous community campaign against the events has developed very rapidly.

This has not been a formal consultation but Lambeth have agreed to include all community comments on the proposals in the material which is put forward to the Cabinet member, Sonia Winifred for decision on whether to allow the events to go ahead. BPCP have been collating responses and sent them on to the Events Team, to Cllr Winifred and to the 12 local ward councillors on 11th December. These included more than 60 individual submissions, comments from the Herne Hill Forum and many Herne Hill traders.

Our response on behalf of BPCP stakeholders and members of the public is below. Lambeth Events team will still accept comments as they come in; you can also write to your ward councillor (addresses from the Lambeth website). The Lambeth wards bordering the park are: Herne Hill, Coldharbour, Tulse Hill and Thurlow Park; on the Southwark side is Village ward.

There will be a more structured consultation by Lambeth after Christmas (details as we get them).

Our response: Proposals for major festivals in Brockwell Park: Field Day (June 2018) and LoveBox (July 2018)

The Brockwell Park Community Partners has consulted its stakeholders and members of the public as to their opinion on these festivals. The response has been broadly against such large paid events taking part in Brockwell Park.

Paid-for music events have been taking place in Brockwell Park for some years now, largely for audiences up to 20,000 people and most have been attended by problems including damage to the park, littering, drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, crowd control and disruption of ordinary park activities, all of which have been reported by us to Lambeth Events. The current proposals for three-day events for up to 40,000 attendees represents a step-change in the size of the events and the impact on the park.

A lot of the opposition to these events is related to the effect of large paid events on the wider community, on local access to shops and other amenities, on anti-social behaviour and crime and although our remit is Brockwell Park, we cannot ignore these concerns. The park is at the heart of this community and there is an overlap between damage to the park and damage to the community. At present, although there may be additional funding for the park, there appears to be no benefit from the events to the community as a whole.

As the proposals stand, the park will be more or less occupied by these events and the LCS for a period of nearly two summer months, at a time when people use it most. The ordinary life of the park will become impossible; ordinary access to the park will be very severely restricted. The heavily-used path between Herne Hill and the Lido will be fenced off for some of the time, making access to the Children’s Playground, the Water Play Area and the Walled Garden and the BMX track and the Community Greenhouses much more difficult and forcing people to walk much longer distances to reach them. During set-up and break down, the park will be unsafe for small children and dogs because of vehicle movement. The Miniature Railway will be unable to function during this time; St Matthew’s Project will lose their football space; access to the Lido and the Lido Cafe will be restricted; there will be little space for informal games. We are very concerned that the new Sports Platform, that is now being well-used, will be swallowed up inside the event sites for the duration of both events. Both the surface of the platform, which is not suitable for heavy use and the table tennis table, which has been bought and installed by the community, will be at risk of damage. Although the event site for each of the events, Field Day and Lovebox will occupy around one third of the park, when the access space is added in and the fact that some areas of the park will be marooned behind the event site and inaccessible, then the loss of space is much larger and more significant. It is well-recognised that access to open green space is an essential component of wellbeing. People living locally, especially on the western side of the park, very often do not have outside amenity space and loss of wide areas of the park to ordinary use will be a serious deprivation for them. The overwhelming view of our respondents is that park is simply not big enough for such major events where the attendance is concentrated in one site and cannot spread out. The park’s topography does not suit the organisation of these large events. The events structures are visible from most areas of the park and from outside and the fencing and stages are highly intrusive. The hilly nature of the park makes sound carry further. Events therefore strongly affect all the park, park users and anyone living close by. Even events judged to be small cannot be ignored; their impact is huge. For many of our correspondents the experience of significant problems caused by relatively small events leads them to conclude, justifiably in our opinion, that larger events will generate larger problems and will strain the ability of existing systems to cope. Following the Found Festival in 2015, which catered for between 15-20,000, there was concern by the Police about inadequate stewarding of the large numbers of people leaving the park at the end of the event and of dangerous overcrowding at the Herne Hill gate particularly. For up to 40,000 people to leave the park more or less at the same time raises the possibility that there will be similar problems of overcrowding at this gate and at the Brixton Water Lane gate which may be very difficult to control. At the Sunfall Festival this year there were serious problems of crowd control caused when people were queuing for admittance to the event site such that the Police had to take action. We have no guarantee that “gates” of up to 40,000 people can be handled any better. Anti social behaviour has been experienced in the park at all earlier events. With larger audiences, this may well reach levels that are very difficult to control. At the first Found Festival poor stewarding of the park led to widespread littering and misuse of the park, drug taking and drunkenness over a wide area of the park (festival go-ers knew they would be searched for alcohol/ drugs on entry to the site, so took drugs and drank excessively before they went into the event). At one point someone brought an SUV into the park, parked upon one of the paths and dealt drugs from the back without anyone trying to stop them. At the Sunfall event the security people hired by the company were not very engaged in controlling the behaviour of their audience which was potentially very dangerous both to park users and the festival go-ers. We are also concerned that people attending a three day event may well try to sleep in the park overnight with the problems that this will generate.There will be damage to the park; this is inevitable. The park is a living space; it will not easily or quickly recover from damage and protracted ill-use. The Sunfall Festival and the recent Fireworks demonstrated that it is impossible to prevent damage occurring during set-up and break down, although in the case of the Fireworks, the providers were very conscientious. Many of the drivers who bring large equipment to the park are commissioned at the last moment and have no knowledge of the park or of any of the arrangements made for its protection. It is clear that when drivers are faced with numbers of people using the paths they tend to veer off onto the grass, for safety reasons and this can wreck the greensward. This does not recover easily and much park staff time is devoted to analysing the damage and attending to it. A number of our respondents took the view that £15,000 is not a sufficient sum to be set aside for restoration of damage. Tracking really should be fitted for all events but this is expensive and event providers are often unwilling to put in extensive protection for the grass.

The BPCP has worked with the Friends and others for many years to improve the biodiversity of the park, succeeding in turning a desert of municipal greensward into an enriched environment for many species. The Brockwell Hedge, the wildflower slope (at the Lido) the Community Greenhouses garden, the pollinator garden at Norwood Lodge and the meadow on the Cressingham ridge are all examples of investment in biodiversity by the Parks Team and volunteers. The park now hosts many species, including house sparrows and stag beetles (which are both on the endangered lists) , many amphibians, bees, dragonflies and unexpected species of birds. This year the parks has been visited by a pair of swans who raised a brood of cygnets on the main pond. Large crowds, large vehicle movement and the kind of major noise and crowd disturbance that will accompany these major events are inimical to wild life and the volume of attendees is something that urgently needs to be reconsidered.

We know that councillors are all aware of how much people value and need their local open spaces and I hope that you will be prepared to reconsider these proposals and take action to protect the community and the park. The formal policy of the BPCP, agreed at a general meeting is that there should be no more than two major events a year in the Park, including the Country Show. In addition, we are very concerned that future planning for the park, in particular, the proposed restoration of Brockwell Hall is compromised by demands generated solely by events.

 

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