The world-famous Pyramid Stage of the Glastonbury Festival could become a permanent fixture on the Somerset farm if new plans are approved.

Since 2010, Glastonbury Festival Events Ltd. (GFEL) has had planning permission to hold the festival and other events at Worthy Farm on the basis of a rolling temporary planning permission – which is due to expire in 2024, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Mumby.

Mendip District Council advised GFEL back in 2021 that a further extension to this temporary permission would not be allowed, since it was “contrary to best planning practice” as laid out by central government.

GFEL has therefore applied for the festival and associated events to have permanent planning permission, which would “provide more certainty and additional flexibility” in the years to come.

The application, if approved, would allow the following activities to take place on the festival site in perpetuity:

  • The hosting of the Glastonbury Festival on a permanent basis once a year
  • The hosting of the annual Pilton Party
  • Camping events which can take place during festival fallow years
  • Agricultural use of the site outside of the festival period

The permission would also allow the “permanent regularisation” of the Pyramid Stage, along with a building currently used for storage and recycling, and the allocation of land to accommodate the temporary festival workforce.

It should be noted that the festival is also subject to its official licence – so even if planning permission were granted, it would still need to comply with the agreed capacity, noise limits and so forth in order to continue.

A spokesman for Planning Sphere (representing GFEL) said: “The grant of planning permission will provide certainty and secure the future of the largest and most iconic music and performing arts festival in Europe.

“Taking into account the planning history and wider planning balance considerations, including the significant cultural and economic benefits as set out and the proposed biodiversity enhancement package, there is an overwhelming planning case that weighs in favour of the application proposal.”

The reaction of local residents has been mixed, to say the least.

Geoff Twining said the permission would result in “the permanent change of use from a working farm to a festival and camping site”, which would “inevitably increase the attending numbers”.

Anthony and Hilary Austin concurred: “If the site becomes a permanent site, we are concerned that additional events could beheld on the site without seeking any additional planning."

Verona Fraser-Mackenzie said the plans would have “long-lasting and deep significance” to Pilton and would “almost certainly impair people’s right to a reasonable enjoyment of their properties outside of festival years”.

She added: “This application makes Worthy Farm an attractive asset to sell as a going concern for Mr Eavis’ descendants.

“There are no guarantees or incentives with a license in perpetuity for the future owners of the site to ensure that the disruption to their neighbours’ lives and businesses is properly mitigated as these events evolve over time.”

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Simon Lodge, by contrast, said the plans “make complete sense”, saying: “These events bring a great deal of employment and benefit to the local community, being the major fundraiser for many schools and clubs.

“It is also really good for tourism and raising awareness of how beautiful the county is, again bringing in much-needed money and support to local businesses and organisations."

Councillor Nigel Hewitt-Cooper, whose Croscombe and Pilton ward includes the festival site, has requested that a final decision be taken by the council’s planning board rather than through the delegated powers of its planning officers.

If no decision is made on the plans by March 31, any decision will fall to the new unitary Somerset Council instead.