CIVIC chiefs have allowed the biggest music festival in Hampshire to expand its capacity by thousands – despite being warned of the "risks to public safety".

Boomtown now has permission to host a maximum of 76,999 people, including staff and security, after a application was approved at a Winchester City Council licensing sub-committee on Tuesday.

This will increase the current maximum capacity by 11,000 – but will not be in effect until 2020.

The application, submitted in June, received 18 objections, and two in support.

David Pain, representing Cheriton Parish Council, expressed his concern for public safety.

He said: "If we look at Reading Festival, Reading Borough Council audits ticket sales. But the council in this situation has no independent means when it comes to numbers, and can only accept the numbers that are given by the organisers, which are of course subject to error. "They are even more so subject to error with thousands more people, and should there be a major fire like there was in 2016, the public would be at risk."

Many residents from villages near Matterley Bowl have been against Boomtown since it first started.

Robert Fox, who has lived in Cheriton for around 50 years, told the committee he had seen the festival "grow and grow".

He said: "It was about 30,000 at the start, then it seemed to grow every year, and it won't stop here. These applications will grow to ask for 90,000 people, and maybe higher. It's a creeping technique.

"The event continues to put pressure on the use of the A272, which we use all the time, and for anyone to say that the traffic problem can be sorted, it's just not true.

"With that volume of people at one event, the traffic becomes horrendous, and most of them don't stay on site. They will come back out again and come into the villages, and it's absurd to believe that everyone behaves proper."

Matterley Bowl is also part of the South Downs National Park, which has worried a number of people.

Graham Tarbuck, on behalf of Alresford resident David Templeman, said the festival noise levels are "out of place".

He continued: "These kinds of noise levels are nowhere to be seen in other national parks. We have been told that the noise levels will not exceed what Boomtown is already permitted, but there will be changes in the environment around.

"If you look at other festivals, most have strict noise limits. They are inaudible from strict monitoring points, and although it would be expensive, I think this would be feasible, and very necessary, for Boomtown."

But after nearly two hours of decision time between committee members Cllr Derek Green, Cllr Fiona Mather and Cllr Roger Bentote, the new permissions were granted.

Mr Stephen Walsh, representing the applicant Boomtown Festivals Ltd UK, said: "I understand all of the concerns, which are all completely legitimate, that have been raised here today. But we must look at the positives of Boomtown. There are a large number of people who visit the area during the festival, which promotes it to people who may not usually use it, or even think to come and see it.

"We have also worked extensively with our traffic management team, CTM. I recognise entirely that the traffic will increase, but CTM have worked with Glastonbury, which has three times the capacity, and it worked incredibly well."

He added: "It's also important to look at the festival's green credentials. At least 30% of people attending will be arriving by public transport this year."

Boomtown usually runs in August from a Wednesday through to the following Monday.

In 2020, the maximum capacities will be: 27,500 on the Wednesday, 75,999 on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday, and 76,999 on the Sunday. The additional 1,000 tickets on Sunday will be provided to local residents.