Headingley Stadium bosses face a nervous wait as council licensing chiefs mull over plans to allow the ground to become one of the city’s biggest live music venues, writes Local Democracy Reporter Richard Beecham.
Leeds City Council’s licensing sub-committee met this week to discuss plans to allow the stadium to hold up to four music events a year on the rugby pitch, with a capacity of just under 10,000 spectators.
However, nearby residents warned that noise levels were already “intolerable” on matchdays, adding that a new licence could theoretically allow the stadium to put on late-night “heavy metal concerts”.
The Dispatch has previously reported on the impact of traffic and matchday parking on parts of Burley and Kirkstall.
Following lengthy discussions, chair of the committee Coun Paul Wray offered the two sides a compromise of two nights per year. As neither were willing to settle for this, the panel opted to announce their decision in writing within five days.
The application had asked for permission for live music and the supply of alcohol events on the pitch for no more than four occasions per year. It allows for concerts to continue until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 6pm on Sundays.
At the request of West Yorkshire Police, no event would have more than 9,999 spectators and only four events per year would take place. The licence would allow the planned Proms on the Pitch event, set for September 21, to take place at the ground.
A representative from the applicants, Leeds Cricket, Football & Athletic Company Limited, said:
“We believe we have provided information to contend topics raised.
“The PA system will not be used to amplify live music. The PA system will only be used for safety announcements.
“Concerns regarding daily disruption have been raised. This will not be the case, as there will only be four events per year.
“We reiterate our intention to work with residents and not antagonise them in any way.”
She added that noise disruption will be minimised, and that floodlights would be switched off at 11pm. A telephone line for complaints would also be manned during the events, from which information would be relayed to sound engineers working on the concerts.
A nearby resident told the meeting:
“The detail is about the noise which will affect us.
“I have no concerns regarding a Peppa Pig event on a Sunday afternoon, but if the licence is granted, it could be for any type of music.
“While not in the current plans, if a late night heavy metal concert finishing at 11pm would be legal in the licence requested, and that would be a concern for us. This, for residents would be devastating.”
He added that the rugby ground was open between stands, meaning noise was able to escape from the ground.
Another resident added:
“We all bought our houses in the knowledge that they were next to a rugby pitch. Events supporting the city are what we would fully support.
“But [noise levels are] creating an absolutely intolerable nuisance on our lives.”
She added that information submitted by the applicants relating to noise levels only referred to noise within the ground, and not how the noise affected outside areas.
Following private discussions between members of the panel, the two parties were then offered a compromise agreement of two events per year on the same weekend, with one finishing late in the evening, and one finishing at 6pm.
The proposal was not met with enthusiasm, to which chair of the committee Coun Paul Wray (Lab) said:
“We are not going to come to a decision this evening. We will write to all relevant parties with a decision within five working days.”