Greenwich Council’s licensing committee is discussing the application to hold next summer’s Peninsula Festival after an day-long meeting at Woolwich Town Hall heard sharp criticism of the plans from police, Olympics chiefs and local residents.
Four different licenses are being applied for, but the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and Olympics organisers LOCOG lined up to criticise each of them, alongside residents on both sides of the river Thames.
Plans to hold concerts for up to 20,000 people – scaled down from the original plans for 45,000 people – were not backed by the Metropolitan Police, with counsel Adam Clemens condemning a “wholesale lack of engagement” on security matters.
“It’s not for the Met to second guess what security resources should be thrown its way,” he said, criticising a lack of detail from event organisers. He added that talk of a 40-page security document was “news to us”, and that a representative of security firm G4S, speaking for the Peninsula Festival, was “a stranger to us”.
LOCOG said it agreed with the police’s concerns.
Alongside the concerts, organisers want to have a events on a “beach” area at Delta Wharf, and a pre-built campsite for 4,500 people on land north of Greenwich Sainsburys, with further events at Greenwich Yacht Club.
But a sister company of O2 owner AEG has dropped out of the concert plans at the last minute, while Peninsula Festival organiser Frank Dekker (above) admitted to differences with Greenwich Yacht Club over what events should be put on at the venue.
Transport for London’s Tony Matthews noted a “lack of visible planning” for the events, saying there was “no indication” what demand there would be for the beach, which Dekker wants to run for five years.
Residents living across the river Thames objected to the noise from parties at the beach, adding that outside events at the O2 compound were already affecting their lives. Local Tower Hamlets councillor Peter Golds said it would be “absolutely unbearable”.
“Noise travels across water and can be magnified by it,” he said, adding that he could hear small disco boats on the Thames from his home with the windows shut.
LOCOG also said access to the beach would be affected by the Olympic Route Network, which would run up Millennium Way to the Dome.
Frank Dekker said the events would “showcase Greenwich and the Peninsula”, but local councillor Mary Mills said there were a “vast number of people with vast number of objections” to the concert in Greenwich Millennium Village, where many homes had poor soundproofing.
She added that GMV residents were hoping the campsite would be quiet, but were dismayed to find an application for alcohol and music licences. “All sorts of things happen when men come out of licensed premises at night,” she said.
The Greenwich Ecology Park also objected to the campsite and business lounge, with representative Joanne Smith saying they were concerned about the effects of people leaving events late and stumbling into the park.
“We haven’t been consulted,” she added. “We were told this would be the quiet end where people were going to sleep. The business lounge couldn’t be nearer to the ecology park if you tried.”
There was also criticism of Greenwich Council’s role, with Cllr Mills saying some residents had become “distrustful” of the council because of the way they thought it had handled the festival, while Tower Hamlets resident Alan Haughton questioned why publicity for the event carried the council’s logo.
“When you see the Greenwich logo on it, you just feel it will go straight ahead,” he said.
Asked by committee chair Maureen O’Mara if he was surprised by the criticism of the plans, Frank Dekker cited a letter from the Greater London Authority suggesting a outline agreement for how the events could work, adding he and the authorities were “talking quite frequently with each other”.
“I had not expected the strong opposition expressed today,” he added.
A decision is expected this evening – this website will be updated if I get the news, or I’ll post it via Twitter using the #peninsulafest hashtag, where you’ll find further coverage from today’s hearing.