Greenwich councillors have given permission for a “rival” venue to the O2 arena to be built on the Greenwich Peninsula – with an attempt to limit its opening hours failing.
Peninsula developer Knight Dragon, which already has permission to build a luxury housing development on the site at the north end of Tunnel Avenue, wants to operate the two-storey, 4,400-capacity venue for up to 10 years.
It now does not envisage starting work on the Meridian Quays housing scheme until 2028 or 2029 at the earliest, and the site has already been used for various open-air events already, such as Oktoberfest and the Corona Sunset festivals.
The developer says the new venue will hold up to eight concerts each year as well as conferences, corporate parties and promotional events.
A submission from the Greenwich Society said the venue could compete with the O2 for events – but Knight Dragon said it was intended to complement the giant arena a few hundred metres up the road.
And while residents of the Isle of Dogs across the Thames have long complained about noise from events on the Peninsula, no objections were heard at last Thursday’s planning board meeting, and Tower Hamlets Council did not submit a representation.
“If you put those events into a building, and with the noise conditions attached, and the advice from our own consultants and your own environmental health team, then there will be no noise issues arising,” Knight Dragon’s representative told the meeting.
Councillors backed the proposal, with Eltham North’s Labour representative Linda Bird saying: “So long as it is time-limited, I think it is an appropriate use of the space, given the surrounding venues.”
But when they discussed what restrictions should be placed on it, there was disagreement over whether they should place an upper limit on the number of events held, with Eltham South Conservative Nigel Fletcher saying that was the job of the licensing committee. But Kidbrooke with Hornfair’s Norman Adams said “licensing committees can be persuaded, perhaps more easily than planning boards can”.
Adams also pushed for an early shutdown, saying: “The applicant doesn’t anticipate events going on much beyond 11 o’clock, so if we put 12 o’clock, that allows for clearing up. There’s nothing to stop the applicant applying for a review in due course if they can show they’re managing the thing properly.”
But after a torturous discussion full of misunderstandings, Adams’ motion was not carried. A licensing committee will still have to approve what hours the venue eventually will open for.
However, councillors approved the venue as a whole, but limiting the number of events to 20 conferences; 10 awards; 25 corporate parties; 12 brand events; 8 music concerts and 8 exhibitions.
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