Hackney Council has bowed to pressure groups and made a U-turn, saying no to a planned five-year approval for entertainment events on the marshes.
Following protests by the Save Lea Marshes group and concerns expressed by some other stakeholders, the council said it would not be submitting the Planning Inspectorate application on this occasion.
The decision was taken after a consultation held earlier this year, which evaluated the pros and cons of seeking permission to hold several major public entertainment events over five years, between May 1 and August 31 in a specific portion of the Marshes.
The Council felt that certain events on the Marshes could be appropriate in future, but this would be approached in a different way.
Councillor Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture said: ‘‘The Council will consider interest from events promoters on specific future proposals, but they would be assessed on an individual basis and accompanied by consultation at the time, giving marshes users and local people specific information on which to base their feedback.’’
He noted that it is vital the Council finds new ways of funding the £500,000 subsidy currently provided to maintain the marshes and keep costs to users reasonable. He said: “We feel strongly that this could include events on the Marshes in future – and we believe the fact 30,000 local people attended the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend shows there is demand’’.
The Save Lea Marshes Campaign group and some other locals showed displeasure on how football, cricket and rugby events had to be disrupted due to damaged pitches and the muddy conditions the Marshes were in immediately after the concert held in 2012, with Jay-Z and Rihanna among the artistes on stage.
Tom Tanner, Secretary of Stoke Newington Cricket Club expressed readiness to be: “…watching them like hawks to make sure any future proposal come with cast iron guarantees the pitches will not be damaged and any plans for future events would not mean we would be excluded from the Marshes for any period of time’’.
Caroline Day, spokesperson for the Save Lea Marshes Campaign saw the decision as: “A victory for democracy, common sense and nature’’.