Community News: Royston is to lose its iconic Kite Festival for this year!

Royston is to lose its iconic kite festival this year, after more than 30 years during which the event has raised  £100,000  for charities and played an important role in the local calendar.
The festival, run by the Rotary Club of Royston,  has occupied just 2% of Therfield Heath for one day each year since its launch. One of the principal organisers, Martin Berry, explains: “For the first time, we have been asked to apply for Section 38 planning approval. These approvals relate to works on common land and are granted by the Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol.

“We submitted our application last November, allowing, we assumed, plenty of time for it to be considered.  Applications such as this can usually be processed in weeks if there are no objections. However, Natural England objected, raising concerns about the festival being held on a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has, of course, always been on the same site for decades and Natural England have never objected before.

“We have worked closely with the Conservators of the heath to try to address Natural England’s concerns, but without success. We are still waiting for the Planning Inspectorate to make their decision but we have now reached a point where we start incurring costs if the event is to take place. These costs cannot be recovered if approval is denied.  

“We deeply regret the cancellation and would like to emphasise how grateful we are to those Conservators (Clive Hall and Clare Swarbrick) who have given up a great deal of their time to help us through this process. We know they are as disappointed as we are. Indeed, a great many local people and organisations will be disappointed, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us over the years. These include our main sponsors: Johnson Matthey, Tees Law, NCPI Solutions and Royston First BID Company. We would also like to thank various friends of the festival, including: all of our amazing kite flyers, Birches Funfair, Paul and Kay Readhead,  the Scouts, The Friends of Therfield  Heath, as well as the  Hertfordshire Constabulary, Hertfordshire Fire Brigade and others.”

Over the years, funds raised by the festival have helped, among others, The Sick Children’s Trust,  East Anglia Air Ambulance,  Angels (which supports  Hertfordshire children with ADHD), Hertfordshire MIND Network (a local mental health charity) and many more.

 Royston Rotary Club –