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