PROTECT CLAPHAM COMMON
The People of Clapham
SUBMIT YOUR OBJECTION – The deadline is Friday 6th January 2023
As a result of our past victories and ongoing protests, Festival Republic will not be staging major events in 2023 but Lambeth BC is applying to the Secretary of State for a return to the Common during the summer of 2024. Lambeth BC is applying now to ensure the Planning Inspectorate has sufficient time to consider the application in advance.
For those of us who want to see an end to these over-sized events, we are writing to ask you, for one last time, to object to the application using the arguments set out below.
Write to the Common Land Casework team: firstname.lastname@example.org, and include the reference ‘Clapham Common Festival Republic 2024’ in the subject line of your objection to commercial events. CC us! email@example.com
Lambeth BC dodged this year’s Public Inquiry by failing to submit their paperwork to the Planning Inspectorate before the deadline. We believe this was a deliberate move to avoid the necessary scrutiny to determine whether these major events actually serve the public interest or just Lambeth BC’s financial interests.
Following ongoing discussions with Lambeth BC, we firmly believe that we are fast approaching a tipping point, and one last push to force another Public Inquiry will find in our favour and mark the end of future applications. We need 450 objections to secure the inquiry.
See here for a sample of the most commonly raised objections.
WHAT HAPPENED IN 2021?
• Lambeth Council looks to be going ahead with the Festival Republic major commercial events from 16 August to 9 September 2021 despite not receiving the required legal consent from the Secretary of State for the Environment. The Secretary of State has confirmed that he will not be in a position to make a decision either way by 16 August 2021.
• Going ahead without consent is ILLEGAL.
• We have already spent nearly £5000 on legal advice in trying to stop Lambeth Council including sending the Council a solicitor’s letter before action (4 August 2021) and a solicitor’s letter setting out our legal case (11 August 2021).
• If Lambeth Council don’t back down, we may need to get an injunction to stop them.
• We need donations to our FIGHTING FUND to stop Lambeth Council totally ignoring the rule of law and our protected rights as Commoners, otherwise in future they will just ignore the law because no one tried to stop them this time.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
• The last series of events on the “events site” resulted in huge damage to the ground which meant the Council had to spend £200,000 to fence off the site from September 2020 to June 2021 to repair the ground and allow the newly seeded grass to recover. The grass is still fragile and cannot withstand the trampling of 40,000 music festival visitors per day over the August Bank Holiday weekend, let alone the huge stages, marquees, lighting rigs and amenity blocks that will need to be erected along with the heavy vehicles and machinery needed to install the structures.
• Given the extensive damage done to the ground from the previous events, it is likely that the “events site” will need to be fenced off again leaving a large part of the Common unusable for many months of the year. This cycle is set to be repeated year after year because Lambeth Council has signed a contract with Festival Republic to host major events every year from 2020-2025.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP LAMBETH COUNCIL BREAKING THE LAW?
• We could ask the Court to grant an INJUNCTION to stop the Council starting work to create the events site on Clapham Common. The installation starts on 16 August 2021.
• We have a legal team on standby to petition the Court. Will you help us raise the money to pay the costs of our legal team to prepare a challenge, either this time or next time?
• Our barrister is confident that we will win and so has agreed to act on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. Our solicitor has agreed to limit her costs to £10,000 plus VAT. If we lose, we will also need to pay the Council’s costs limited to £10,000.
• Please consider how much you value the peace and the natural environment of Clapham Common. Please consider how letting Lambeth Council go ahead with these events without central government consent sets a dangerous precedent for future events on our Common and all Commons.
• Please consider how much you would be prepared to pay to protect our Common now and in the future and donate that amount today.
• 476 people wrote to the Secretary of State with their objections. Thank you to all those who did that! If every one of those people donated £50 we would have enough to challenge Lambeth Council in Court. Please donate more if you can.
Click to donate* to our fighting fund:
This is the last call to action for those of you supporting the fight against PITP – to write just one more email.
This has been a complicated and controversial planning proposal – so if you’re feeling confused – you can read our 2 minute summary posted at the end of this page.
Where are we now?
We’re now facing the appeal from the original application (2020/2536) to Wandsworth last November for the ‘change of use’ of the Pavilion to a cafe and bar. This remains a key piece of the puzzle for PITP that could allow the whole project to go ahead.
If they can’t get the Pavilion, PITP will most likely walk away – so this bit is really important!
How do we object?
If you do want to object, it requires just one more email to the Inspectorate to let them know you do not support the proposal.
Please write today – the deadline is 12th May.
Send to Stephen Wallis at: firstname.lastname@example.org
quoting reference number 2020/2536
OR: send 3 copies to
The Planning Inspectorate
3C Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Here’s a list of things to include…
1. We are writing to support the Wandsworth Planning Committee in their decision to refuse permission for Putt in the Park to use the Pavilion for their plastic golf course.
2. This will cause a loss of amenity to the neighbourhood from increased noise, light pollution, parking problems and possible anti-social behaviour from the subsequent liquor licence application and from corporate events.
3. There will be a loss of visual and ecological amenity as the current ‘living’ landscape will be substituted for a counterfeit plastic landscape covering two thirds of the greens.
4. We will lose our rights of public access across the Common as the area will be fenced off and we will have to pay to enter.
5. The application has been a misleading ‘piecemeal’ process that does not give a full picture of the whole development. It should be refused and the whole site should require planning permission.
6. The Bowling greens are now registered as ‘Assets of Community Value’ so should not be ‘developed’ and destroyed for private enterprise.
Please do include any and all of your own thoughts – you can just say you don’t like it!
To finish, please say…
We ask the Inspectorate to uphold Wandsworth’s decision and dismiss the appeal.
We can win this fight and we will keep you fully updated.
If you want to help prevent climate change, objecting to this project is a firm step in the right direction.
Lambeth council are about to sign a 15-year lease with ‘Putt in the Park’ to allow them to cover a large area of common land with hardcore and artificial plastic grass.
They are planning to convert the old Bowling Greens, on common land, into a fake mini-golf course as a private commercial enterprise for financial gain.
There has been no public consultation or engagement with the community at large. To date there has been no disclosure from ‘Putt in the Park’ or Lambeth regarding exact quantities of hardcore and plastic grass to be used.
Given that we are in the middle of a climate crisis and we have had a stern reminder just how precious our green spaces truly are, this is a tone-deaf project that must not be allowed to proceed.
We are also suffering a major global pandemic brought about by our negligence, and disrespect for the natural world so the need for change is urgent and we must act now!
The Friends of Clapham Common will be fighting the application for this project at every turn, and we will keep you fully informed of developments and the part you can play!
Please sign our petition
Why it is important
We are in a climate crisis and open green space is the greatest asset we have. We should be planting trees not laying down plastic. Clapham Common belongs to the people, it belongs to us and if this project goes ahead, we will lose access to a special area of the Common.
David Attenborough has made it clear, it’s up to each and every one of us to protect the natural world, make it our number one priority.
You can help by signing this petition.
2 minute summary
How did we get here?
This is a tale of two boroughs – Lambeth and Wandsworth – each having its own rights over different aspects of the application. Half the Common lies within the LB of Lambeth and half within the LB Wandsworth.
Let’s start with Lambeth…
Lambeth has jurisdiction over the everyday running of the whole Common unless planning consent is needed for projects that fall on Wandsworth’s side. In that case, applications have to go to the LB Wandsworth.
In January 2020, Lambeth signed a contract with a private enterprise called Putt in the Park (PITP) giving the go ahead for a mini-golf course under ‘permitted development’ – which means they didn’t need to ask for Wandsworth’s permission even though it’s on their side. There was no credible public consultation and it failed to catch anyone’s attention for the best part of a year – we were all in lockdown! However, PITP also wanted to use the Pavilion next to the bowling greens as a bar and cafe for their customers as well as corporate events, and in order to do this they need to ask Wandsworth for planning/licensing permission.
The whole PITP project hit the headlines and came under scrutiny and Wandsworth received over 150 objections to the proposal. The Friends and local protest groups joined forces to start investigating exactly what the mini-golf course and the attached bar would really entail.
Instead of a simple putting green, we found an enormous new build had been planned for the site. This would include using hundreds of tonnes of compacted hardcore and covering 2000 sq.m of open grassland in 6 tonnes of petrochemical plastic grass – the equivalent weight of half a million carrier bags!
We discovered a phoney set of overstated biodiversity claims – you may have seen these plastered on the side of the Pavilion – which amounted to little more than a shopping list of commonplace plants and shrubs from the local garden centre. No real specialist plants to support our declining invertebrate species.
Similarly, claims that their shallow concrete water feature – really designed to catch golf balls – was a wildlife pond to support frogs and newts also failed to the pass the eco test. Using these tactics to get planning approval is called ‘greenwashing’ and it’s what companies do to convince the public its products are environmentally friendly. The reality being, if the project goes ahead, the landscape would be lost forever.
Now let’s look at Wandsworth…
Last November the application for the Pavilion came before the Wandsworth Planning Committee (2020/2536) and they unanimously rejected the proposal – citing a loss of amenity to the neighbourhood, loss of public rights across the common, concerns over the greens being replaced with plastic and the loss of public use. PITP immediately put in an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn the decision.
As required by law under the Commons Act, PITP also had to submit an additional application to the Secretary of State in order to ‘build’ on Common land. This now gave us all the opportunity to submit our own letters of objection and to challenge the wider project as a whole (FCC Newsflash – March). A huge ‘thank you’ to all those who wrote in and to our six local Councillors who also wrote letters of objection.
This part of the assessment from the Secretary of State is still ongoing and we won’t know the outcome for several months.
Although addled by the lack of public support, Lambeth has backed itself into a corner as it already signed the preliminary contract with PITP and now can’t entertain alternative suggestions for the site unless PITP decide to walk away – we want you to know there are many other ‘green’ options and proposals for the site.
Given the endless delays and the groundswell of public opinion against the project, PITP’s enthusiasm is waning. It finds its future business reliant on deeply unpopular plastic surfaces and is in the spotlight for accelerating the climate emergency.
We have around 5000 signatories on the petition against the project and the support of six local Councillors. All efforts are now focussed on stopping the appeal going through – the deadline is 12th May.
We have successfully registered the bowling greens as an ‘Asset of Community Value’, which will help in protecting them from development and we are in the process of seeking the same status for the Pavilion.
As governments around the world now mobilise to cut global emissions and climate change issues have become stitched into common consciousness, many people are asking how they can do their bit to save the planet. Well, plastic grass has one of the largest carbon footprints of all exterior surfacing materials, one of the shortest shelf lives and it blocks all carbon storage by preventing trees and shrubs taking root.