Macedon Ranges council has been slammed for allowing British musician Ed Sheeran to stage a private concert on Hanging Rock.
Sheeran, 25, has staged secret events previously in Melbourne and other parts of the world, but the whirlwind Ranges’ visit on February 5 to promote a new album backfired.
Australian radio duo Hamish Blake and Andy Lee snapped photos and short videos at the pop star’s secret twilight concert, setting off a chain reaction of outrage from locals.
Residents and conservation groups alike flocked to express disgust at their council, which did not consult with Hanging Rock advisory group members before the show.
A council spokeswoman said there are many requests for private events at Hanging Rock, including funerals and film shoots, which are assessed on an individual basis.
In this instance, she said, councillors were advised of the show beforehand and Heritage Victoria inspected the site afterwards – no concerns were raised.
She said wider consultation was not necessary given it was a “small scale” private gathering.
“There were only 80 guests present, no tickets were sold, the event ran for just over half an hour,” she said. “Such events are permitted under the local planning scheme zoning.”
She said the private concert offered significant promotional benefits to Hanging Rock and the region, and had been approved “by council executive”.
Federation of Environment and Horticulture Macedon Ranges spokesman Hilary Roberts said the concert set a “dangerous precedent”.
“They’ve done this in the most conservationally sensitive area on Hanging Rock itself … there’s been no history of having events up on the rock.”
Macedon Ranges Residents Association slammed the council on its Facebook page.
“The previous council assured everyone concerts would only be held on the east paddock, but here’s one which wasn’t. Is this a breach or deviation from contract?” the post asked.
“This ‘secret’ concert really disrespected the rock, and betrayed the assurances given to community.”