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City centre park to be rented out for wedding receptions
WEDDING receptions can now take place on the publicly-owned Headington Hill Park four days each year.
Oxford City Council says its agreement with Total Event Management, which won a tender to stage events, will pay for maintenance of the site.
It is unclear how much the deal is worth or whether the council has any other plans to use public parks in this way.
But residents living near the park are unhappy.
Chris Brewer, who lives in McCabe Place, said: “Headington Hill is a public park and should be for everybody.
“It’s not acceptable to close off part of the park for a private event.”
The move comes after a Green Spaces Strategy in January 2012 gave residents in Oxford the chance to comment on the city’s parks and open spaces.
Jock Coats, 46, who lives in the closest property outside the park, said: “It’s particularly disappointing after we set out our views in the City Council’s Green Spaces Strategy last year.”
Marie Power, of London Road, said: “Headington Hill Park is a local amenity for local residents.”
Headington Hill city councillor Mohammed Altaf-Khan said: “I am concerned about clearing the park afterwards and the damage that could be done to it.”
Total Event Management, which is based in Headington, says a marquee for up to 1,000 guests could be installed and that midnight would be the standard finishing time for receptions – but admits this could be extended. On its website it states the park is: “A blank canvas for you to do with exactly what you would like. Marquees, tipis, yurts or anything else can all be arranged.”
It also says that the park is not currently licensed for wedding ceremonies, but this could change.
Manager of Total Event Management, George Upcott, said: “It is important to point out that at no point will the whole park be closed.
“The area which is available for use is the central area and this is the space that is made exclusive for the day. Access to the rest of the park remains unchanged.
Headington Hill Park has been used for many outside events including Shakespeare plays by Creation Theatre company Louisa Dean, from Oxford City Council, said: “We have agreed that Headington Hill Park will be used for a maximum of four private wedding receptions a year.
“This went through a tender process and there was consultation with the Headington Hill stakeholders which included the local residents’ group.
“By capping the amount of annual wedding receptions, this will ensure that the park is suitably protected and the amount of additional disruption will be minimal.”
Mr Upcott said the idea came from his sister’s wedding which was held in Headington Hill Park last August as a ‘one-off’.
He said: “People seemed really interested in what was going on and it was a great event. “I understand the concern about noise and running late into the evening and it is something that we are very aware of.”
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