Residents fight back against Lovebox festival


Residents have vowed to fight on after the team behind the Lovebox music event won permission to stage a festival for up to 50,000 music lovers per day.

MAMA Festivals, who are famed for staging Lovebox in Victoria Park as well as other festivals including Wilderness, the Citadel and The Great Escape, will be allowed to hold a weekend event at Wanstead Flats in September next year.

However, residents are concerned about noise, traffic and any possible impact on skylarks which live in the popular open space.

The land is owned by the City of London Corporation, which gave permission for the concerts to go ahead as a pilot. They will run between 12noon to 12pm on each of the three days.

Initially, MAMA applied to stage a series of  events there this summer, and in future years, featuring big name bands such as Stereophonics, The Prodigy, and singer-songwriter George Ezra. Several meetings were held with residents last year to discuss their concerns.

The City’s Epping Forest and commons committee gave the go-ahead to the weekend of concerts earlier this month. MAMA will also have to get premises licence approval from Redbridge Council, which will look at issues such as noise and the impact on residents.

Katherine Gundersen, who set up a petition contesting the event on the 38 Degrees website, said: “I will certainly be exploring legal avenues to challenge the decision.” The petition has already been signed by more than 465 people.

Ms Gundersen said: “Such a large scale event is inappropriate. It is too big and it is also a site of nature conservation.”

The City commissioned an environmental impact report and decided September would be a suitable time for the event as it avoids the nesting period for skylarks, which are on the UK’s red list of birds which need the most protection.

Head of conservation at Epping, Jeremy Dagley, said “there would be no direct impact” on breeding birds.

He also pointed out that the Corporation has staged other events, including firework displays  at the ‘Fireground Site’ for 20,000 to 30,000 people. The police used the site as a base during the 2012 Olympics.

However, the festival will be staged at a different part of Wanstead Flats off Aldersbrook Road in Wanstead. Frances Stacey, who lives nearby said: “They have not really considered people. There were so many people when they had a Mela concert on the Flats. We had stewards down the end of our road and we could not get in or out.”

Last year Parliament approved new legislation giving the City extra powers to hold events which need strict events policies.

Helen Zammett, from Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents’ Association, said: “I am so disgusted. I am totally against having 50,000 people arriving per day. It’s too much.”

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation said: “The City Corporation has received a proposal from MAMA Festivals Ltd for a three-day music event at Wanstead Flats in September 2020. Elected Members have agreed in principle that the event can be held at the site.

“The event organisers will now need to apply to the London Borough of Redbridge for a licence to hold the event and conduct a full public consultation.

“They will also be required to mitigate against any environmental issues in order for the event to go ahead.

“Epping Forest is a registered charity and if the event were to proceed, all surplus income will be reinvested in the management of the forest.”