Haggerston Park won’t see Winterville this year

Winterville was launched in Victoria Park, gaining a reputation as a “cooler”, east London version of Winter Wonderland.

But an application to hold the festival in Haggerston Park this year was withdrawn in the same month it was submitted.

The festival started in 2014 in Victoria Park, Hackney, and was back in 2015. It was advertised to take place again in 2016 but did not go ahead.

This year, a planning application was submitted in September 2017 to hold Winterville in Haggerston Park, but was dropped after opposition by residents, campaigners and local councillors over noise, litter and anti-social behaviour on their doorstep – and a lack of time to address these concerns.

A Winterville spokesperson told campaigners: “We have encountered objections from a small number of local residents and our preference is always to resolve community concerns where possible. Unfortunately there would not have been time.”

When asked whether it was was normal practice to submit a planning application so late in the year, Winterville representatives declined to comment, but did say an announcement will be made in mid-October about where the festival will take place.

Haggerston ward councillor Barry Buitekant puts the withdrawal down to “massive opposition from local residents and their Haggerston ward councillors”.

He said the plans would “have created multiple noise, litter and anti-social behaviour problems for the residents of the area – problems which would have tied up already limited police resources”.

Olympic screen at Haggerston Park

Haggerston Park residents worried about noise and litter (Photo: Hackney Citizen)

Haggerston Park User Group (HPUG), chaired by Turner Prize nominated artist Fiona Banner, led the charge against the plans, under its slogan: “Local parks for local people.”

The group questioned Winter East Ltd about taking over so much of the park for six weeks, and whether revenue to the council could justify the disruption for residents.

A spokesperson for campaign group Save Haggerston Park (SHP) said: “The level of revenue to the council is highly unlikely to justify the disruption, but we have no idea what amounts were actually involved because nobody told us, despite requests for this information.

“So much for democratic transparency and accountability!”

Cllr Feryal Demirci, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, Transport and Parks, called the revenue “an important source of income to contribute towards their [the parks’] management and maintenance at a time of significant government cuts”.

Had Winter East Ltd not dropped its application, the council could have rubber-stamped the plans to secure this much-needed revenue over the objections of residents and councillors.

Cllr Demirci said the organisers “hope to engage with the council and the local community over the coming year to discuss options for holding an event next year in one of Hackney’s parks”.

When asked whether organisers had any future plans to hold Winterville in Hackney, the PR firm acting on their behalf refused to comment further.

SHP said members are “cautiously celebrating” and preparing for a possible next round: “They may come back next year, armed with all they have learned this year, so be warned.”

Update: this article was amended at 4.30pm on Tuesday 3 October 2017. A number of quotes were attributed to Haggerston Park User Group rather than the Save Haggerston Park campaign.

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