The Peninsula Festival‘s organisers revealed their plans to local residents yesterday with a couple of meetings in the swish new office blocks next to the Dome. From the 11th floor, it’s easy to see where boss Frank Dekker gets his enthusiasm from – just look down at the vast empty spaces that remain on the peninsula. While the Dutchman wants to start this year with a city beach, and repeat that for the next 15 years, he’s really got his eyes on the Olympics.

“London will be turned on its head for a few weeks,” he says- and he hopes next year’s festival will cater for millions expected to arrive in London next summer as well as help locals enjoy rather than endure those weeks in the spotlight. The beach will be the lynchpin of his plans, but if his bigger event in 2012 takes off, then he’s hoping to capitalise on the 2015 Rugby World Cup (held in England, with three venues in London) and run themed events around the 2016 Olympics in Rio and the 2018 World Cup. With tall ships lined up for 2012, he’s even got them pencilled in to return in 2019.

So what’s planned? Here’s a quick outline…

The beach: Planned to appear every year from the end of May to the end of August, using the old Delta Wharf site – highlighted above. It won’t actually extend into the fast-flowing Thames itself, but is based on schemes like Paris Plages, where full scale beaches are placed next to the Seine. It’s hoped up to 500-800 people will come to the beach each day, with more for special events such as DJ nights. The surrounding land will be landscaped and “dressed” to make it look the part. There’s the possibility of putting a volleyball court in, and a pool if sponsors can be found.

The camping: A site next to the beach is earmarked for a upmarket campsite in 2012 which aims to help fill the shortage in local accommodation for the Olympics. The concept is – ahem – glamping with rented-out “canvas structures” rather than tents. Take a look at the posh camping at Glastonbury for an idea of what’s being aimed for. This is expected to attract 4,500 people.

Stage area: This is roughly at the foot of the City Peninsula development, between there and the Pilot pub. Again, this is another 2012 scheme, and has the backing of AEG, whose main arena inside the O2 will be out of action for three months because of the Olympics. The idea is to host a mixture of events, from big-name ticketed gigs or classical shows to smaller shows, accommodating between 15,000-20,000 people.

Sailing: Tall ships will sail up and down the Thames from the Royal Arsenal to Tower Bridge in summer 2012. The ships will be berthed at Woolwich rather than at Greenwich.

Marina: A “St Tropez on the Thames” is planned for 2012, in association with Greenwich Yacht club.

“Connect” area: A sponsors’ village for 2012, next to the stage area.

The cost? Some events are expected to be free, other events will be charged, with payment in bars and concessions using pre-paid cards. A tie-up with the residents’ Greenwich Card is planned.

(UPDATE 20 MAY: The locations of the stage and campsite have changed – see this later post)

Here’s the handout we were given. (This is an original copy as opposed to the dodgy scan published earlier.)

One thing Frank Dekker was very keen to emphasise was that the festival wanted to support the local community rather than impose itself on it (a questioner mentioned the unloved Run To The Beat half-marathon as an example of how not to do things) and is keen to hear of business propositions, groups who want to get involved, and people who could perform or take part – for example, it has been mooted that tour guides could take people from the festival sites and show them the other sights of Greenwich.

I’d be interested to see how the stage area pans out – particularly with the difficulties the On Blackheath festival has hit with vocal neighbours. While I don’t think they’ll encounter the same level of hostility from Greenwich Millennium Village residents – to be frank, with many of its homes empty at weekends there simply isn’t the same sense of community up there – I do wonder how the neighbours will react. If that gets the nod, On Blackheath goes through and the Greenwich Summer Sessions return, 2012 could be good summer for music around here. (Note to all three organisers – once again, please, no James Blunt.)

The real difficulty, I suspect, will be out of their hands – and that’s the infrastructure linking the peninsula with the rest of Greenwich. It’s that old chestnut of the Thames Path again. Greenwich Council’s taken some enormous kickings over the past year – not least from this website – or so over the closures and general state of the path. But now comes the chance to fix this.

The Peninsula Festival is part of the council’s Greenwich Festivals scheme, with the hope being that a little bit of funding to get these big events off the ground will help them snowball into big, successful events for 2012 and beyond.

If Greenwich Council really wants the Peninsula Festival to succeed, then it has to match Frank Dekker’s ambitions and get the Thames Path fixed by next summer, to make sure it’s properly connected with the rest of SE10’s attractions, people and businesses. Otherwise it could end up yet another of those things on the peninsula that’s nice to have – but somehow feels a bit distant from the rest of us.

(Want to find out more? Read an interview with Frank Dekker.)

33 replies on “Greenwich’s Peninsula Festival plans set sail”

  1. Wow. Again, thatnks for your work on this Darryl.

    Try as I might I just can’t see the Peninsular attracting the sort of numbers that are being talked about.

    As you say at the end of your piece, despite the fact its 10 minutes or so away from me on the bus it seems remote and unwelcoming and merely an empty space between Sainsbury’s and the Tube.

  2. Well, there is a Tube station close by, of course.

    But while this could be exciting, I think there’s a lot of work needed before it really benefits the area. It could still be done…

  3. What’s the capacity of the campsite intended to be? I gasped at the 4,500 figure until I realised that was presumably the total throughout the Olympics!

    It would be great if they could have one of those floating pools, but I guess the tidal range puts the muckers on that idea.

  4. How many sad people do we have in Greenwich. A private sector inititative delivering a quality programme for 2012 and beyond in the scheme of things a success in the real world. The consultation process was an enormous success with the programme of events widely supported and applauded. East Greenwich business community were enthused. Why,because they see the opportunity for local companies,protecting jobs and opportunities. Does it matter if the blogger community whinge on the sidelines -of course not.

  5. Cllr Fahy
    I am a LBG resident and I hadn’t heard the details of this scheme until reading this blog. Very informative, and I really don’t see what you mean by “whinge”. Oh, was it the reference to getting the Thames Path fixed? Sounds like a sensible suggestion to me.

  6. Meeting yesterday afternoon was positive and I don’t see anybody complaining on here or any other blogs. Surely the Blackheath Society can’t hear anything up on the heath!

  7. Can’t see any whining here councillor, what about this blog and the comments do you have a problem with?

    Whole scheme sounds exciting to me.

  8. Some previous outdoor events near the Dome have generated complaints about noise from across the water in Tower Hamlets – “Afrika, Afrika” in 2008 was an example.

    And fair play to John Fahy for commenting. He’s not as grumpy as he seems, but for him engaging with the internet is like Mr Gladstone making a phone call in 1895.

  9. “Greenwich Millennium Village residents – to be frank, with many of its homes empty at weekends there simply isn’t the same sense of community up there – I do wonder how the neighbours will react. “

    Not sure about the homes empty at weekends thing – you could probably say that of any London area. In terms of community, the residents here were very active in lobbying the councillors about the first “Run to the Beat” marathon going through the area to change things around (especially when at least one speaker was blasting music right next to a block of flats on Sunday morning, waking everyone up – poor organisation, that). They lobbied the Council for months (and succeeded) in getting traffic calming measures introduced at West Parkside near Pear Tree Way so that lorries doesn’t speed down the street that’s close to a primary school.

    It looks like they are already discussing the effect the Peninsula Festival (if it gets off the ground) will have on the community, so if there are going to be complaints, the Council will get them pretty quickly. It’s pretty lively here.

  10. Thanks for your observations on GMV, DOlivier – thinking of how it works around Victoria Park, I suspect locals have little to worry about in terms of sound but I’ll be interested to see how it all works out.

    I don’t think Cllr Fahy (Greenwich Council’s culture and Olympics cabinet member, who’s in charge of funding the Peninsula Festival*) has been back since he posted, but I would like to thank him for posting here – it’s the kind of debate we need in this area.

    However, I would also like to ask where the “whinge from the sidelines” is in this post – particularly as this is the first media coverage the Peninsula Festival has had (nothing yet even in Greenwich Time) and I don’t believe I’ve said anything that’d be a surprise to the organisers, who I spoke to at length after Wednesday afternoon’s meeting.

    (*UPDATE 9PM MONDAY: John Fahy has said the council is not funding the festival – see comments below)

  11. Well here’s a whinge from a sad person. These plans are a nightmare for local residents and there’s going to be plenty of opposition to them. So the Council can think again if they think it’s “in the bag”.

  12. I think perhaps the councillor is getting his knickers in a twist because everyone is not being entirely fulsome about the plans.

    As I’ve said, IMHO the area is just not that attractive. Look at those vile concrete areas past the Holiday Inn. What on earth are they? Unused car parks, future building land or what? They’re such an eyesore!

    Even the green area adjacent to the former Beckham Acadamy looks lonely and unused. Darryl mentions it in his piece, the area has yet to develop a sense of community.

    I applaud Greenwich for trying to develop the area, but the path must be attended to — look at Darryl’s pictures councillor!

    Also, what’s going to happen post-Olympics? Will it all be left to degenerate?

  13. Darryl being naughty again. Greenwich Council is not funding the Peninsula Festival. This is a private sector initiative which is warmly welcomed. Of course we need to have regard for the residents in the surrounding area but I suspect they will be active participants in the Festivals programme that will run across the Borough during during this year and next.

    Yes Chris,I fully agree with your comment about the Path and must be improved in the longer term

  14. Cllr Fahy – why did you tell the last full meeting of Greenwich Council the sums being given by Greenwich to the Peninsula Festival were too small to require due diligence? The council is either giving the festival money, or it isn’t – even if it’s just a few hundred quid. A clarification would be appreciated.

  15. Ah-ha – just managed to answer my own question, rather daftly. In response to a question about whether any council funding of the festival had undergone a process of due diligence, Cllr Fahy said: “The important thing to recognise is that there is no risk to the council.”

    The original question rambled on about “local bloggers” raising concerns of that nature, which I certainly hadn’t done (indeed, only asking, “what’s all that about?”).

    So… just to clarify, Cllr Fahy – there’s no funding from Greenwich for the Peninsula Festival? Thanks for continuing to contribute, as well.

  16. Why Cllr Fahy, must the path only be improved “in the longer term”? And what is “the longer term”?

    Bits of it are falling into the river.

  17. Darryl: in answer to your question how would YOU describe:

    – 4500 campers

    – a sound stage and 15-20.000 audience

    all within a few yards of residential property?

  18. A big party? I only asked a question…

    Incidentally, the campsite’s nowhere near any residential property (unless you count riverside places on the Isle of Dogs).

  19. Sorry, Darryl, you are wrong. The campsite is at the Southern end of the Peninsula, near the Cinema, and over the road from the Millennium Village.

  20. I’m sure that wasn’t on the plans shown last week – it’d put the campsite next to the aggregates yard on Horn Lane.

  21. I don’t know what you were shown but that is definitely what is planned – actually very slightly further West, by the Southern Way bus lane.

  22. So with about 6 weeks to go what exactly IS the Peninsula festival other than a temporary beach and some tents. There, thats the whinge for you..

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