In addition to trying to secure additional income from parking in Dulwich Park the Council is also planning more large-scale events there. At the very end of last year, they consulted over a food and music themed event planned for the weekend 3rd-5th July 2020 called ‘Pubinthepark’. Promoted by an events company, Brand Events TM Limited, it will be hosted by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge and is one of a series of ‘PitP’ events to be held at various locations across the country (there were eight on 2019 in locations such as St Albans, Marlow and Chiswick). They plan to run a total of four sessions over the weekend - Friday & Saturday evenings and Saturday & Sunday afternoons, each session accommodating up to 3,500 ticket holders. The website www.pubintheparkuk.com gives a taster of what is on offer (chef demos, food and drink tasting, trading stalls and a programme of live music. The organiser has applied for a permanent licence, enabling them to repeat the event in future years.
The choice of Dulwich Park is clearly because the area is seen as having a relatively wealthy demographic who will be interested in the offer, and can afford to pay for it - tickets are £35-£45 per person per session (with some premium tickets at £95 each - and with food and drink on top of that) The organisers say that there will be opportunities for local traders and businesses to participate but the current businesses in the park like the recumbent cyclists, the boats on the lake, and the park cafe are not so sure - they also say that they will tell ticket purchasers that access is best by public transport, but they cannot insist, and there could be a major impact on local roads.
This will probably be the largest event held 36in the park in recent years and whatever one’s views of its content, it raises serious questions about Southwark Council’s policy of earning additional revenue by permitting private events in what is a public park - used by people living, not just in Dulwich, but in many other parts of Southwark who do not have gardens or easy access to open space. The plans are to fence off the sports fields forming part of the West Lawns - which amount to about 25% of the grassed area of the Park for 10 days in the height of summer (to allow for setting up and taking down). Notwithstanding the noise of 3,500 festival goers attending each of the 4 sessions (2 sessions and a total of 7,000 people on Saturdays), loud music from live bands, and PA announcements throughout the event, will create significant noise nuisance to those living nearby.
The organisers will pay a fee, though the Council will not say what it is. There will also be a bond, again amount unknown (but less than £10,000), paid up front to cover any damage to the park - many members will recall the length of time it took to repair the listed entrance gates about ten years ago (and not forgetting the problems on Peckham Rye two years ago). The Society believes that these types of events do not encourage the proper use of public space, quite the opposite. The Council says that Dulwich park events generate income to run free events elsewhere in the Borough although we have been told that 10% of the hire fee will apparently be ring-fenced for unspecified projects in Dulwich.
The Society joined Friends of Dulwich Park and local residents in opposing the licence application and, although it was finally granted after two lengthy hearings, it has been restricted to one year only with a restriction in numbers on site to 5000. We understand the organiser is considering an appeal to the Magistrates Court, a process which is likely to take some time.