RESIDENTS close to the site of the BoomTown Festival had their say on plans to expand the popular music festival.

The organisers behind BoomTown, which this year attracted around 60,000 people through its gates, plan to increase the number of attendees to 80,000 by 2019.

They revealed the figure ahead of a drop-in session held by the organisers and Winchester City Council’s licensing department at Itchen Abbas and Avington Village Hall last Thursday.

The proposals would see the annual music festival at Matterley Bowl increase its capacity to 76,000 for the next event to be held on August 9-12 2018.

It would then allow a further 4,000 music fans to attend in 2019.

Residents’ concerns ranged from the impact on traffic and noise pollution, to the detrimental impact the festival has had on local businesses.

Sarah Bullen, the owner of Avington Park stately home, said that she has had to cancel large functions as a result.

“It’s the traffic the last two years, it has been out of control,” she said.

“I own a business that puts on weddings and lost a big one because of BoomTown. It closes us down for the weekend and stops my workers getting in.

“I don’t mind the festival being here, but I mind the effect it has on my business.”

Councillor Jackie Porter, who represents The Worthys, said that the effect on businesses was a hidden one.

She said: “It stops people getting to physio, and doctors appointments. Many feel that they can’t leave their homes, and taxi rides that would usually cost £5 become £25 because of the diversions and traffic.”

Resident Vernon Tottle said: “We are all effected by the noise. The increase may only be a few decibels, but why is this necessary? It’s like someone has been given a toy and they are saying we want a bigger toy.”

Councillor Barry Frampton from Cheriton Parish Council said: “Nobody’s happy about the extra day, the extra noise, the extra traffic. Residents need to use the roads and it’s almost impossible. It’s not just at the start and the finish, it’s the whole weekend.”

However, organisers said that they were confident that they could deliver the show without increasing the impact on the local area.

Boomtown community liaison officer Caroline Johnson said that they were doing everything they can to minimise disruption and manage noise, including using acoustic barriers to try and minimise sound leaving the venue.

“If you look at the amount of noise complaints compared to 2002, the number of complaints has gone down, and keeps going down, year on year,” she added.

As previously reported, BoomTown has announced world-famous alternative rock band Gorillaz as the first headline act for the 2018 festival, which will mark BoomTown’s tenth anniversary.

However, the festival has come under fire in recent years following a number of drug-related deaths.

Last year Olivia Christopher was found dead in a tent after consuming a variety of drugs, and in 2014, Ellie Rowe, 18, from Somerset died after taking ketamine.

In response, festival organisers have taken steps to try and resolve issues by having an on-site drug testing facility run by The Loop, as well as launching a drug awareness and safety drive including releasing a short 15-minute documentary discussing the dangers of drugs and addressing the issues drugs can cause at the festival, as well as in wider society.

Lak Mitchell, co-founder and creative director of BoomTown, said: “It feels like a huge evolution in the festival world, all of a sudden things are stepping up and we’re progressing.

“We’d like to use the festival platform to introduce these new harm reduction services and ways of bringing public safety and education towards drugs to the forefront.”

Winchester City Council will make their decision on the plans at a committee meeting at the end of January.

* What do you think? Has BoomTown got too big or is the inconvenience a price worth paying? Write to