Worry over more events at Blackheath

Greenwich Council has applied (to itself) for a licence that would allow up to five unspecified events, for up to 60 days a year, on Blackheath's Circus Field. This would be in addition to the traditional Bank Holiday funfairs held there and doesn't include days for setting-up or clearing-up afterwards.

Blackheath Westcombe Conservative Councillor Geoff Brighty says there is a lot of concern about the application and what some residents see as the over-use of the Heath. Consultation began just before Christmas and Geoff has already been contacted by a number of residents, as well as local amenity societies such as the Westcombe Society, the Blackheath Society and the Greenwich Society.

Cllr Brighty says: "I certainly share those concerns. It has been estimated that, if the new licence for Circus Field is granted, that one part or another of the Heath would be in use for events for approximately half the year.

“There is a view that there is a need for an updated events policy for the Heath involving both of the local authorities responsible for it - Lewisham and Greenwich councils - before further long-term commitments are made. Circus Field would be subject to that policy and no one area of the Heath should be looked at in isolation from another. This would enable issues such as public access, potential noise disturbance, potential loss of public use of a free open space for quiet enjoyment and issues related to Blackheath’s status as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation to be taken into account for the whole area.

“This application is being put forward ahead of such a review taking place and I have asked Greenwich Council to withdraw it for this reason and also because I believe the Council should invite separate applications for individual events. That would enable residents and amenity groups to respond to each on its own merits.

“It is understood that one of those expressing interest is the In the Night Garden children’s production, which may not, of itself, raise too many objections, but residents would I am sure appreciate having the chance to comment on each application individually as they may arise."

Cllr Brighty raised the issue at a full Council meeting just before Christmas and, a few days later, had a meeting with Council Officers and the Greenwich Cabinet Member responsible. Another meeting is to be arranged and Cllr Brighty says he hopes the Council will take notice of the concerns being expressed and look at a different approach.