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Greens Leader Puts Clampdown On Laneway Festival

Written by Greg Moskovitch on November 27, 2013

A row has erupted over the expansion of Laneway Festival 2014‘s Sydney event, with efforts to increase capacity from 8000 to 12,500 fans being threatened by conservation group Friends of Callan Park, despite organisers receiving the approval from NSW Police and other authorial bodies.

The event is set to kick off Sunday, 2nd February 2014, with a lineup featuring Lorde, Haim, Earl Sweatshirt, and Jagwar Ma, in the grounds of the Sydney College of the Arts, whose dean, Colin Rhodes, has reportedly supported the organisers of the Laneway Festival.

The festival has already received approval to increase its attendance capacity is seven of the eight cities in which it will be held, with expansion in Sydney stalled by Leichhardt Council, of whom 12 councillors are believed to be Friends of Callan Park members, as reported by Fairfax Media.

The group’s spokesman and current Convenor of the NSW Greens Party Hall Greenland says the group do not instruct its members on how to vote. According to Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne, Greenland’s powerful group “heavily lobbied” against the expansion, as reported by The Music.

“The key is the size of the event,” Greenland told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s growing and it’s obviously very popular so good luck to the musicians and the promoters but there has to be a question as to whether Callan Park is a suitable venue for 12,500 people.”

“There are other music venues around that are not considered heritage landscapes that are probably more suitable,” Greenland added. “Parts [of the park] like the Sunken Gardens are very fragile…that in particular is something that 12,500 fans would put at risk.”

Laneway co-promoter Danny Rogers remains incredulous towards Greenland’s assertions, telling Fairfax, “I don’t really know what all the commotion is about [in Sydney], We’ve had an independent assessment commissioned [for the increase], we’ve got the approval of the NSW Police.”

“And [we have approval from] the Sydney College of the Arts and a lot of support from its Dean, Colin Rhodes. To suddenly have a small minority of people say you need a smaller capacity makes zero sense. I have no interest in being oversubscribed – that would work against us.”

Changes required for the capacity increase would involve pushing the main stage towards Balmain Road and increasing the number of food stalls and amenities. Rogers says that even if the increase is denied by Leichhardt Council, the event will likely still go ahead in Callan Park.

The development application lodged by organisers to expand attendance capacity also has the support of acoustics experts as well as several Council Officers. The decision over the application is scheduled for a council meeting next week, reports The Music.

Cr Byrne told The Music, “I am astounded that the leader of the Greens Party in NSW is trying to have 4000 music lovers turned away from Sydney’s best emerging festival,” adding, “[The application] is recommended for approval…the self-appointed fun police are trying to shut it down.”

(Via The Music)

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