04:05PM, Thursday 28 April 2022
Late-in-the-game plans to up the numbers at the Pub in Park festival by 1,000 people have been met with concern by Marlow residents.
The Higginson Park food and music festival – inspired by Marlow celebrity chef Tom Kerridge – is set for May 12-15.
It ordinarily hosts about 7,000 people. Now, event organisers Brand Events TM Limited wants to increase capacity up to just under 8,000.
The total number of people includes about 1,300 staff on site.
The company says that this year it has experienced demand for tickets like never before seen at previous Marlow Pub in the Parks, which have been running since 2017.
No changes are proposed for the licencing hours, i.e. the length of the festival or times when alcohol is served.
Nonetheless, residents have logged objections, fearing increases in anti-social behaviour, unacceptable noise levels and inadequate parking facilities.
Speaking at Buckinghamshire Council’s licensing sub-committee on Thursday (April 28), Gareth Hughes, representing the company, said Brand Events had ‘a very good track record’ and should be trusted to host more visitors.
He added that the police and the Safety Advisory Group had both raised no concerns about safety, security, or anti-social behaviour.
Neil Levene, Brand Events’ operations director, added to this that previous such Pub in the Parks saw ‘no arrests, no drunkenness and no anti-social behaviour of any note’.
The pair also highlighted that 1,000 more people does not mean 1,000 more cars, as it expects significant numbers of people from the local area to arrive by foot.
It expects about ‘a couple of hundred’ extra cars and has accounted for this by adding more parking at the Marlow Rugby Club site.
The highways authority is ‘perfectly happy’ with the increased numbers, they said.
The ‘suite of conditions’, including waste management plans, wear and tear repair fees, toilet provision and a noise assessment all remain ‘satisfactory’ even with the increase, Mr Hughes said.
One of the differences between Marlow Pub in the Park and other festivals, Brand Events argued, is that it is principally ‘food-led’ and music is ‘ancillary’.
They added that Tom Kerridge’s local link made this a community-minded event.
However, Marlovian Bob Savidge, who lives close to Higginson Park, expressed strong doubt that the addition of an extra 1,000 people at the event would make little difference to noise.
He recounted previous years when he could hear the festival from ‘a mile away’.
“I believe this whole thing has got to a stage where it’s too big for Marlow, it’s right in the middle of town,” he said.
“Only 16,000 people live in Marlow. It’s a vast amount of extra people. I’m against any growth of this event.”
Cllr Paul Griffin (Independent, Iver) asked why the applicants had left it so late to make this alteration – given that Pub in the Park is only about two weeks away.
Mr Levene explained that it learned of the increased demand somewhat recently and ‘due process’, including running four-week consultation, had led to this request coming late in the game.
The subcommittee retired to discuss the application and should return a written decision within five working days (of April 28).
Planning permission for 200 new homes on the outskirts of Hurst have been declined by Wokingham Borough Council.