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Northstowe Running Festival granted licence to add music, dance and cinema in future

A licence has been granted to the organisers of the Northstowe Running Festival to run a yearly two-day event, with live music, dance performances, an outdoor cinema and bar.

This year, a one-day running festival - supported again by the Cambridge Independent - takes place on Saturday (September 2).

Runners at a previous Northstowe Running Festival. Picture: Vahn Shakeup
Runners at a previous Northstowe Running Festival. Picture: Vahn Shakeup

The organisers said they are hoping to restore the event to two days in future years after having to cut it back due to the “economic crisis” and asked for greater flexibility on when the event could be held.

They previously held a licence for a two-day event, with restricted hours for when alcohol could be sold and music played.

South Cambridgeshire District Council granted an application for a new licence to extend the hours, which will allow live music to be performed and alcohol sold until 10pm, and for dance performances and films to be shown.

Marcin Lis, one of the organisers, told councillors at a licensing sub-committee meeting last Wednesday (August 16) that the running festival was a “community-driven event” that offered races, as well as other community activities, including fundraising for charities.

He said: “It is a very family friendly event, offering a variety of attractions and activities, most of them being free and the event is always attended by entire families.

“It first took place in 2021 on Sunday from morning until early afternoon.

“Last year we tried to extend the event by adding the half marathon as the event was gaining some more popularity. We thought it was the right decision and a natural progression for the event to go over the weekend.

“Based on hours from last year’s event, we successfully submitted for our current premises licence that we hold.

“However, because of multiple factors, starting with the economic crisis, we took the decision to go back to a one-day event, because last year was not really financially sustainable for us.

“Having said that, the variation application costs over £250 each time and we have the possibility of facing a process like this.

“For that reason we consulted with licensing officers and we decided that it is best for us to submit an application that would cover our needs for the future, so we do not have to go through this process all over again each year, in case say in two years time we decide we want a two-day event again.

“For that reason we gave hours that are extended and would cover our needs for most possible scenarios we could have in the future.”

Northstowe Running Festival, Marcin Lis . Picture: Keith Heppell
Northstowe Running Festival, Marcin Lis . Picture: Keith Heppell

Mr Lis said the event did not intend to run to the full extent of the requested licence, highlighting in particular the request to put on live music performances until 10pm on Saturday and Sunday. He said the shows would most likely end before this but the details gave organisers a “buffer”.

Mr Lis said: “This event is a community-driven, family-friendly sporting event. We are residents of Northstowe. It is not our intention to come to a random town in England, make a party and then pack up and go. We live here and know the people.

“This event comes from passion for running and trying to do something for the community. That is how we bill the event, and as Northstowe residents ourselves there is never any intention to annoy anyone.”

Concerns had been raised by members of the public that the new licence could lead to more events taking place during the year, but licensing officers at the meeting explained a condition had been agreed to limit the licence to a single two-day event between August 20 and September 30.

Councillors noted concerns about attendees parking on surrounding streets.

The organisers said there was no car parking at Northstowe Western Park, where it takes place, and explained that all runners were told about the parking available at the Park & Ride and a nearby school.

They told councillors there was “ample” parking available and that they had not exceeded the capacity at previous events. Signs will be put up this year asking people not to park on surrounding residential roads.

The sub-committee went into a private meeting to consider the application before returning to confirm they would grant the licence, but with some restrictions.

Councillors said the live and recorded music needed to end by 7pm on a Sunday, and that alcohol could not be sold after 7pm on a Sunday either, but said both were allowed to continue until 10pm on a Saturday.

Dance performances and films could not be shown after 7pm on a Sunday, but were allowed to be shown up until 10pm on a Saturday.

Councillors also said a senior person from the organising team needed to be put in charge of dealing with parking issues during the event, and that a contact number for them should be sent to residents nearby before the event took place.

Cllr Mark Howell, chair of the sub-committee, said: “The Northstowe Running Festival is a positive community event that encourages participation from all ages, promotes community cohesion, brings new people together and embraces diversity within the community.”

He said it was successful at “promoting the community of Northstowe as a new town and the encouragement of healthy activities” and “provides support and funding for local schools and charities”.

He noted “the event had previously received no noise or nuisance complaints in past years.”

Visit https://northstowerunfest.co.uk/ for more.

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