Boomtown Festival: 14 week ‘construction and scaffolding’ could mar the South Downs landscape east of Winchester – APPLICATION WITHRAWN

Planning application:

A new planning application has been submitted to the South Downs National Park: Proposal to vary ‘condition 2’ to permit 14 weeks instead of 9 weeks allowed for the Boomtown music festival event at Matterley Farm in the western end of the South Downs National Park reference: SDNP/22/01333/CND

UPDATE – APPLICATION WITHRAWN

According to the South Downs National Park comments about this application should be made no later than 15th April 2022. You can email the Planning Dept at planning@southdowns.gov.uk quoting the reference SDNP/22/01333/CND. or via the web: http://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/

This is an application submitted under ‘Section 73’ of the Town and Country Planning Act which is intended for ‘minor’ amendments to an existing planning consent, e.g. like changing the size of one window in a house extension. However, this application seeks an increase from 9 weeks to 14 weeks during which the unsightly set-up preparations. After the the event itself the ‘take-down’ is also lengthened.

Is this a minor change? An overall increase of over 50% seem quite a big departure and not ‘minor’.

Applicant try to justify the 14 week via a Housing Ministerial Statement concerning the construction sector

The only reason given by the applicant’s planning agent is a temporary ‘supply chain’ issues with scaffolders in 2022 only. This is said to be caused by Covid and Brexit. The applicant quotes from a Ministerial Statement made on 21 December 2021 in which there is a reference to ‘supply chains’. However, this statement was made by the Housing Minister who mentioned a shortage of HGV drivers and asked local planning authorities to relax restrictive hours for work on building sites in the construction sector. We believe this statement is irrelevant for this application as the planning condition for which a change is being sought does not restrict the hours of work on the site and the Boomtown music festival is in the arts sector and not the construction sector. Thus, no valid reasons are given to justify this application.

Impairing the Landscape Views

This activity would cause even more impairment to the landscape and views at this iconic part of the SDNP which has the Cheesefoot Head Viewpoint and the National Trail South Downs Way on the application site.

Planning Policy

Since the decision was made by the SDNPA Planning Committee in April 2019, the Authority has adopted the South Downs Local Plan and this application we believe must be determined against its policies one of which is Strategic Policy SD6: Safeguarding Views. This policy reads:

“Development proposals will only be permitted where they preserve the visual integrity, identity and scenic quality of the National Park, in particular by conserving and enhancing key views and views of key landmarks within the National Park.”

The Local Plan goes on to explain the purpose of Policy SD6 is to ensure that development does not harm views or landmarks, to encourage conservation and enhancement of key view types and patterns, and to ensure development does not detract from the visual integrity, identity and scenic quality that are characteristic of the National Park.

The applicant’s Covering Letter and Planning Statement do not even mention Policy SD6 and make no attempt to explain how this proposal would ‘conserve and enhance’ the national park in accordance with the Environment Act of 1995.

History and Background Information

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