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No Thank You for the Music: Immersive Mamma Mia! show sparks residents’ protest

Scene from the sold-out production of Mamma Mia! The Party in Stockholm. Photo: Sam Emery

Waterloo residents have staged a protest against plans to build a temporary venue in the London area that will host a Mamma Mia! spin-off show.

Protesters held signs with slogans including “Abba don’t destroy our community” and “We need social housing not Mamma Mia!” at the site on London’s Southbank on August 11.

However, the producers said they had “consulted extensively” with residents in the area and have taken their feedback on board.

Abba songwriter Bjorn Ulvaeus and producer Ingrid Sutej have applied for planning permission for a 500-seat Greek taverna style venue that would house Mamma Mia! The Party [1], an immersive stage show inspired by the musical.

The land is owned by social enterprise Coin Street Community Builders, which is dedicated to the regeneration of the South Bank area. The plot of land for the temporary venue was never specially earmarked for social housing.

The plans, which were submitted to Lambeth Council, have received comments of objection, with one person saying that the “nightly noise and disruption” to their family’s sleep was “just not fair”.

They added: “The parking needed for the 500 or so audience and staff nightly will only add to the problems of residential parking already faced in the area. How can you guarantee that the leaving revellers will be quiet and not head into the surrounding residential streets?

“The land should be used for low-cost housing for local people as was planned. The dirt and noise from construction will only add to the appalling air pollution already in this area. This should not be allowed.”

Another member of the public commented: “It is in the heart of residential properties, albeit on a corner site which could be much better used as much-needed social housing, so far completely ignored by the council in their desire to rake in developers’ money. This is only the beginning of the objection.

“Not only will it increase traffic, no thought seems to have been given to the infrastructure relating to pollution – air and noise – given London’s overall inability to manage either. This project should be booted out and the site used for social housing in a sustainable form, not short-term lets that lends no security to anyone wanting to find a home.”

Another comment, made by someone claiming to represent King’s College London, said the university had “serious concerns” about the noise disturbance of the site on its 24-hour library and student residencies.

A community newsletter sent from the Mamma Mia! The Party producers to local residents in July revealed how the plans for the venue – which would operate for about five years – had been adapted in an attempt to address residents’ concerns.

Changes included reducing the opening hours to 11.30pm from the initially proposed time of midnight on weekdays and to midnight rather than 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. The producers also said the venue would create local jobs, and could be used by the community when shows were not taking place.

A spokesman for the producers said: “We are excited about the opportunity to bring Mamma Mia! The Party to London, which is one of the most vibrant entertainment destinations in the world.

“While our proposals are only temporary, we are delighted to be working with Haworth Tompkins architects, who also designed the Shed at the National Theatre and the Young Vic, to deliver something really special.

“Our team has consulted extensively with residents in the area surrounding the proposed location for our theatre, to hear their views and concerns.”

He added: “The plans that we have submitted have taken on board this feedback, and our hope is that we can offer lots of positive benefits to the local community, as well as putting on a great show.”