Private events in a public park: contested music festivals and environmental justice in Finsbury Park, London

SMITH, Andrew, OSBORN, Guy and VODICKA, Goran (2022). Private events in a public park: contested music festivals and environmental justice in Finsbury Park, London. In: PLÜSCHKE-ALTOF, Bianka and SOOVÄLI-SEPPING, Helen, (eds.) Whose Green City? Sustainable Development Goals Series . Springer International Publishing, 83-102.

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City parks have long been understood as contested spaces. But creeping privatisation and commercialisation in an era of neoliberal austerity have heightened tensions between different user groups, and between local communities and park authorities. This chapter provides an in-depth case study of a contested green space in a global city. Finsbury Park in London opened in 1869 as the people’s park with the aim of improving the living conditions for the working classes. However, it is now a highly commercialised park, regularly hosting private events which are justified by the local authority as necessary to finance the maintenance of the park. The chapter focuses on the dispute between the local Friends group and Haringey Borough Council over music festivals staged in Finsbury Park. The Friends of Finsbury Park have challenged the legality of these events in the UK courts as they affect the accessibility of public space. Wireless—billed as the UK’s biggest and most famous urban music festival—is particularly controversial. This is an expensive and disruptive event, but one that celebrates urban and youth cultures, suggesting it may have positive as well as negative effects on park accessibility. Based on field work conducted from 2017 to 2020, and the analysis of documents covering the dispute, this case study assesses the ways that music festivals affect the status of Finsbury Park as a people’s park. The chapter highlights the wider implications of this local dispute and outlines the socio-spatial impacts of the shift in London towards parks financed by commercial income.

Item Type: Book Section
Identification Number:
Page Range: 83-102
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2022 09:22
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 10:30

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