One event al­lowed at park

Coastal News - - New - By ALI­SON SMITH [email protected]­news.co.nz

Only one tick­eted event will be al­lowed an­nu­ally at Wil­liamson Park in Whanga­mata¯ .

A raft of pro­vi­sions aimed at keep­ing noise to a level that res­i­dents can live with will also need to be met by any­one host­ing events there, un­der a de­ci­sion re­leased by an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sioner last week.

The ap­pli­ca­tion was trig­gered by the Thames-coro­man­del Dis­trict Coun­cil’s pro­posed dis­trict plan, un­der which any fes­ti­val or event at­tract­ing 500 or more peo­ple re­quired a re­source con­sent.

The park is a popular lo­ca­tion for events in­clud­ing New Year’s con­certs and the Whanga­mata¯ Sum­mer Fes­ti­val.

The Friends of Wil­liamson Park So­ci­ety says it will not ap­peal the de­ci­sion by Com­mis­sioner P H Cooney. In his judg­ment, the com­mis­sioner said the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of host­ing tick­eted events do not trump the need to balance the wide use and en­joy­ment of the beach­front park and pro­tect its amenity and pub­lic ac­cess.

“I be­lieve that [the eco­nomic ben­e­fit] ob­jec­tive could still be achieved if Coun­cil de­cides to fund such events on an un­re­stricted ba­sis, apart from the one pri­vately pro­moted con­cert I in­tend to al­low. That of course, is a pol­icy de­ci­sion for coun­cil to take.”

The coun­cil made an ap­pli­ca­tion for a com­pre­hen­sive con­sent for 20 day­time and seven night-time events per year, for 15 years.

Var­i­ous plans will be re­quired prior to events, and among other re­quire­ments:

■ Wil­liamson Park to be clear of any­one at­tend­ing an event half an hour af­ter its con­clu­sion.

■ Tem­po­rary fenc­ing must be put up no ear­lier than 24 hours be­fore an event.

■ The coun­cil may re­quire noise mea­sure­ments to en­sure com­pli­ance, and mon­i­tor­ing would be at the prop­erty most ex­posed to the noise or an­other ap­proved lo­ca­tion.

■ No more than four spe­cial noise events ex­ceed­ing 80 deci­bels within any two weeks, and for six hours max­i­mum. Any­thing be­yond six hours would count as two events.

The hear­ing is part of a 60-year long saga over the use of a Whanga­mata¯ beach­front park be­queathed to the coun­cil in 1929 and named af­ter Philip Wil­liamson who do­nated 3.7ha of beach­front land.

Con­certs and fes­ti­vals held there in­clude the Beach Hop and Whanga­mata¯ Sum­mer Fes­ti­val, at­tract­ing be­tween 10,000 and 20,000 peo­ple, and rev­ellers to gigs like Shapeshifter and op­er­atic trio Sol3 Mio around New Year.

Some 195 pub­lic sub­mis­sions were re­ceived. Nu­mer­ous res­i­dents and groups ar­gued against the use of Wil­liamson Park as a venue for events, which they say are noisy and dis­rup­tive and said the land was do­nated years ago for strictly non­com­mer­cial use.

Thames-coro­man­del Dis­trict Coun­cil says there will still be ad­di­tional lay­ers of com­pli­ance re­quired be­fore an event is able to be held, which in­cludes food and al­co­hol li­cens­ing re­quire­ments and the obli­ga­tions of the hireage con­tract be­tween the pro­moter and the coun­cil as owner of the re­serve.

The Whanga­mata¯ Com­mu­nity Board has also drafted a pol­icy to help staff when book­ing events.

PHOTO / FILE

The Shapeshifter con­cert at­tracted an es­ti­mated 4200 peo­ple when it was held at Wil­liamson Park in Whanga­mata¯ .

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