At the time of writing the Westcombe Society have been told that the final draft of the Blackheath Joint Events Policy has been adopted by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and will soon be adopted by London Borough of Lewisham.
The Blackheath Joint Working Party (BJWP) proposed that the number of days where there are events somewhere on the heath during the April to October period should not exceed 90. This has now been changed to 90 days per council per year, including set up and set down and not including the London Marathon event, which uses parts of the heath managed by both councils.
Our concern is that this could allow for a possible number of event days on Blackheath of 180 plus approx. 7 for the Marathon, most of which would be likely to occur in the April to October period.
In 2017 there will have been 94 event days during the April to October period. Although Council Officers assure us that they will not use the full 90 days plus per Council proposed in the final draft Events Policy, there are no guarantees that this will be the case in the future. We are reminded of the relatively recent RBG Circus Field license application which caused a great deal of disquiet and an unprecedented response from residents, mainly triggered by a clause that allowed for the possibility of a large number of events on the Greenwich side of the heath in the future. We imagine local residents will feel the same if there is even a remote possibility that the number of event days on Blackheath could increase from around 90 in the summer months, at present, to up to 180 plus in the future.
All the amenity societies agreed that Blackheath should not be allowed to become mainly an event site, it should remain principally an open space. Do you feel the same?
Some feel that the current use of the heath is probably already higher than the heath can sustain on a long term basis. There is recently published grassland survey that suggests some deterioration over the last 14 years when compared with that in the 2003 Wilkie report, even accounting for the different grass categories used. This is regrettable given the status of the heath as a Site of Metropolitan Interest for Nature Conservation. Whether or not this is due to the use of the heath as an Event space it begs the question as to whether the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the London Borough of Lewisham are actually fulfilling their responsibility to protect the heath and its fragile ecosystem.
If you have views on this we would like to hear them. We also encourage people who have views on this to write to Janine Whittaker (Janine.Whittaker@royalgreenwich.gov.uk), Kevin Sheehan (Kevin.Sheehan@lewisham.gov.uk), Kevin Bonavia (Kevin.Bonavia@lewisham.gov.uk), Gemma Buttell (email@example.com) and your local Councillors.