Plett Rage venue sparks rage
Organisers want to hold festival on Central Beach; residents don’t like it
ORGANISERS of the Plett Rage student festival are at their wits’ end after years of local opposition to the event reached fever pitch this week and they were forced to find a new venue for this year’s multimillion-rand get-together.
The festival brings thousands of school-leavers to the coastal holiday town every year and contributes just short of R50 million to the local economy during the period.
The organisers have submitted an occasional land use application to the Bitou Municipality to host the festival along the town’s popular Central Beach.
The application is not only for this year’s festival, but also for the next five years.
But while most locals concede the festival is a massive boost for the local economy, some believe holding it at the beach could have a negative impact not only on marine life, but also residents and businesses in the area.
Project manager Ashley Brown said the reason for the move was that last year’s venue was no longer available.
Last year’s event was hosted on the Ganse Vallei farm, also known as the Plettenberg Bay Waste Water Treatment Works, but the municipality is currently upgrading the works.
“Another element of the venue change is due to the noise complaints from the camping grounds across the N2, although most campers during this time were Plett Ragers.
“It’s really upsetting to see so many locals not support us as a festival when the week brings so many new faces, future tourists, and new clientele to the town,” Brown said.
He added that Plett Rage numbers had increased, which meant the event had “outgrown” its original venue – the VIP Club in the town’s industrial area.
Organisers said that over the past decade, Central Beach had played an integral role in Plett Rage, providing daytime entertainment and a recreational space for the students. This usually wrapped up at sunset at around 8pm.
Organisers now propose that Central Beach become the new venue for the Rage by extending the entertainment until 10pm.
The occasional land use is expected to be in operation from November 24 to December 2, 2017.
The actual hosting of the event will take place from the December 1 to December 9.
The proposal suggests the site will include three marquee tents with alcohol purchase points, a main electronic dance music stage; a VIP stage and DJ deck, vendor areas to purchase food; production zones; ATMs; portable water closets, an emergency tent, fencing around the festival for security purposes, and venue operating centres.
Brown said several measures would be put in place to minimise the inconvenience to locals and businesses.
Parking would still be available for businesses within the precinct as students would be shuttled to the festival grounds in buses.
“Although Plett Rage is hoping to be able to host the festival right in the middle of the town, we’re doing our utmost to get the best sound and production suppliers to help us create an environment that is not only enjoyable for the festival- goers, but also make it bearable for residents.
“The layout of the stages will also be facing towards lesser populated residential areas to reduce the noise pollution.”
Polly Bramham of the Plettenberg Bay Community Environment Forum said while the festival was a significant event on the local calen- dar and brought with it benefits, the forum objected to the proposal as it would “only provoke a negative response from residents, and cause adverse effects on tourism and on marine wildlife in the bay”.
“This is a momentous proposal that should have been put out for proper public consultation, instead of which there appears to have a very obscure and misleading notice published; apparently to avoid foreseeable public outrage,” Bramham said.
“Many of the tourism businesses that run directly from Central Beach are reliant on the residential and migratory marine life that is found along Plett’s coastline.
“In spite of the suggested parameters, it is unrealistic to suppose that the curfews will be adhered to, or that the bass levels will be kept down.
“Such noise pollution is detrimental to marine mammals, and likely to cause localised movements; consequently these will see negative impacts on eco-tourism.”
The Plettenberg Bay Ratepayers and Residents Association had similar concerns and suggestions.
Secretary Margaret Marshall said due to the proximity to surrounding residential areas, the noise would be “highly disruptive and unacceptable to all surrounding residents and to other tourists”.
Brown said if one looked at some of South Africa’s biggest music festivals, such as OppiKoppi and Rocking the Daisies, one quickly realised that although these festivals were multimillion-rand operations, they both made use of farmland as their festival space.
“This venue type removes all clientele from its local central business district, owning the monopoly of all spending, including accommodation, food, leisure spending, alcohol, and entertainment,” Brown said.
“We have been approached to follow suit, but we love Plettenberg and therefore we have made the bold decision of focusing our festival around the town.”
He added the festival directors had always wanted and encouraged the support of local businesses, accommodation suppliers, tourist attraction and restaurants, but had seen a small group of individuals “go out of their way to revolt against hosting the festival”. – Garden Route Media
Student revellers fill up a venue in Plettenberg Bay at a previous Plett Rage event.