PLANS to give permanent permission for a music festival at the home of Boomtown have been rebuffed by councillors in favour of a temporary extension.

Approval to use Matterley Farm, near Winchester, for the festival had been due to expire at the end of this year, before the South Downs National Park planning committee unanimously granted the extension yesterday.

The decision now means the site can host the annual 65,000-capacity festival, as well the Tough Mudder obstacle course, on the Matterley Estate until the end of 2024.

Committee members were keen to hold off on granting permanent permission over concerns around the potential impact Boomtown could be having on rare wildlife, with the compromise allowing for more time to assess its impact – something a number of objectors raised during the meeting.

Doug Jones said: “I think there’s a lot of things we need to firm up and tie down before we give permanent permission.”

Barbara Holyome, who branded applicant Peveril Bruce’s ecology report “very, very weak”, added: “I will go with the temporary permission because if we go to refuse this in the end, we will need very strong results.”

Concerns were also raised about the length of the extension being too long, although Tim Slaney, director of planning, reassured members that was the right period to make the assessments.

As previously reported, the application had proved to be highly controversial, with 53 letters of objection submitted, including several from parish councils and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. There were 126 letters of support. mostly from people living outside the area, who pointed out the economic boost for local shops and pubs.

Peveril Bruce, son Finn, and Cassandra Frey-Mills, representing Boomtown, also told the meeting of the work being done by the festival to help local communities and charities, as well as other benefits to the national park, and said they were not aware of any adverse affect on wildlife, adding they had worked to help the area’s butterfly population.

Speaking after the committee, Mr Bruce said: “We will be working with the national park over the next six years to try to convince them there’s nothing to fear. We want to look after Matterley Estate.

“I’m not sure what it is everybody is worried about.”

Asked about the future and whether another permanent bid would be make by 2024, he added: “We’re positive. Onwards and upwards.”

This year’s festival is set to run between August 7 and August 12. Headliners include rapper, Ms Lauryn Hill, Prophets of Rage, The Streets and duo, Slaves.

The venue will be themed as a pop-up town, split into multiple ‘districts’ with a variety of musicians and other entertainers performing across 100 stages.