The recent Foodies Festival at Marble Hill House drew in punters from around the area keen to experience a wide range of stalls, watch cookery demonstrations, listen to some live music and generally stuff their faces full of food and drink. Not a bad idea if you ask us. It was a good event. But of course it was an English Bank Holiday weekend and that usually means one thing: rain. OK, so it didn’t rain for the duration but there was plenty of it. The result? Getting all those vehicles off the park left the grass in front of the house looking more like farm tracks than a suburban park – and we should know, we went to the countryside once.
Basically, a large area is a massive mess. We’re talking mud, ruts and the odd splattering of engine oil. We’re sure it will be sorted out between English Heritage and the festival organisers but it’s likely to involve some quite significant costs. The planning statement for the event indicated that it would return for a second year but we can’t see either English Heritage or park users being particularly keen on that unless something changes, and not just the weather. English Heritage’s ‘Design and Access’ statement in their El Brute submission said, “The principal physical impacts on the site are the wear and tear of vehicles during installation and dismantling, mitigated by the use of a track-way. Reinstatement of any damage to the grounds will take place immediately after the event”. Well, there was a trackway but it was clearly inadequate for the heavy rain / heavy vehicle combination over the weekend.
There will always be those that don’t want any kind of new event on their doorstep – the noise, the smells, the disruption, all those bloody people! We certainly don’t take that view. No doubt English Heritage need to find new ways to raise revenue and the Foodies Festival seemed like a good idea, but with that amount of damage to the grass, English Heritage and most locals must be thinking that once is enough unless things are done differently for future events of this scale.
Meanwhile, with the media luvvies of Soho House returning to the park for their House Festival on 3rd July, English Heritage must be nervously re-reading the small print in the contract and endlessly checking the long range weather forecast.
UPDATE: 19th June 2014
Work has been taking place to rectify the damage. The ground has been levelled, some new turf has been laid and the sprinklers are working away to try to help it bed in.
Flattened & turfed: