Plans for Headingley Stadium’s rugby field to host two boxing or wrestling events every year have been unanimously turned down by Leeds City Council.
An application originally went before a Leeds City Council licensing committee last week for the Rugby Bowl at Emerald Headingley Stadium to be allowed to host two boxing or wrestling events per year, with a maximum capacity of 25,000 people.
However, the plans attracted objections from residents and councillors in Kirkstall, Burley and Headingley, as well as police, who were concerned about anti-social behaviour.
One of the fights was due to feature boxer Josh Warrington. The former IBF world featherweight champion was due to face Mauricio Lara at the stadium in his Leeds homecoming fight in September.
A Leeds City Council spokesperson told WLD councillors sitting on the licensing sub-committee were unanimous in their opposition. The spokesperson said:
“The committee noted the steps the stadium had proposed to take to reduce public nuisance and disorder and to promote the licensing objectives.
“However the events proposed were very different in nature and duration finishing at 11pm, compared to regular events at the venue and the noise was likely to last longer into the night significantly impacting local residents, including children.
“The stadium now has the right to appeal this decision.”
The events would have been held on either a Friday or Saturday, to take place between the hours of midday and midnight.
More than 20 letters of objection were submitted by local residents, alongside opposition from all six ward councillors in both Headingley and Kirkstall.
Kirkstall councillor John Illingworth (Lab), representing all six local councillors, said there were fears spectators would “take over” in residential areas like Burley and Kirkstall at a time when people would be sleeping and when public transport would have stopped running. He added:
“I’ve never heard anyone suggest the stadium was anything other than noisy. It is a nuisance.”
Nearby resident Daniel Shoreman told the panel:
“The stadium only engaged with residents after the application was put in, and they were prompted by residents.
“They didn’t engage with us to understand what our previous concerns were for other events – this was reactive engagement. They didn’t contact every resident – they only contacted the Turnways residents.
“These are completely different events – people drinking on the pitches for up to 12 hours, with different types of noise. The noise of 25,000 people – nobody knows what the impact of that will be.
Leeds Rhinos chief Gary Hetherington told the BBC that the decision was ‘hugely disappointing’ and the club would now consider the ramifications of the decision.
The stadium already has permission to stage four live music events per year over two weekends, with a maximum capacity of 19,999. This agreement is now subject to an additional condition that the dismantling and removal from site of any equipment and apparatus used in connection with a music event will not take place before 8am on the day after such an event has taken place.
WLD has previously covered matchday parking concerns from people living in Burley, Kirkstall and the Queenswood Drive areas here.