Tramlines 2024: Festival looks set to to stay at Hillsborough Park in Sheffield despite mud bath
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A report to Sheffield Council's Communities, Parks and Leisure Policy Committee, due to be discussed on Monday, says the council is committed to reviewing the 'lessons learned' after this year's event.
The report by Ajman Ali, executive director of neighbourhoods, said: "We are committed to reviewing the lessons learned and to working with Tramlines as our valued partner to ensure the event will go ahead in Hillsborough Park in 2024 without issue."
The 16-page report states: "We are clear that the situation experienced in Hillsborough Park this summer cannot be repeated in future years. We take the need to learn lessons and make changes for next year’s Tramlines and future events very seriously and we are committed to working with Tramlines to learn lessons from this year’s festival."
Following the festival in July, Hillsborough Park was turned into a mud bath by torrential rain and 30,000 revellers over three days.
Large parts of the park were fenced off for reseeding and repair work over the school summer holidays and into the autumn.
In July 2023, Sheffield experienced its second wettest July on record with the Weston Park weather station recording 176mm (7ins) of rainfall - more than double the 65mm average.
The report states: "Having not had such extreme weather on a festival weekend before, we did not anticipate how quickly the ground would deteriorate, especially on the Sunday.
"We are clear that this cannot happen in the future and will therefore factor in the impact of severe weather during the Tramlines weekend this year when making any decisions about large scale events in future."
Following this year's festival opinion was divided over whether the event should be held at Hillsborough Park in future.
Hillsborough local Tracy Wilson said at the time: "As a Hillsborough resident we use the park often. Yes please GET RID. Let another part of Sheffield enjoy all it brings."
Hundreds debated new locations for the popular event, including businessman David Slater, who suggested moving it to Attercliffe. While others proposed moving the festival back to the city centre or rotating it around Sheffield’s other green spaces.
The council report said use of Graves Park, Norfolk Park and Don Valley Bowl - alongside Sheffield Arena car park had been considered. But they were all 'unsuitable' due to the large number of revellers.
The report said: "Hillsborough Park is the only city park with the capacity to host an event of this size and nature. This is for two reasons; a) the main field can host an audience of around 35,000 and b) the park’s proximity to both the Supertram network and several bus routes and spectators can walk into the city centre (3 miles) at the end of each show day.
"We know there will always be some damage or disruption after a major event, but our aim is to minimise the damage as much as possible using sensible, affordable methods (always paid for by the event organiser).
"We hope that we’d never see another weekend with such heavy rain, but we also know that with changes in the climate, extreme weather is likely to happen more regularly."
"Events are important for building a city’s brand and reputation. They enhance the city's image, show the world what Sheffield does well and bring in audiences that might not otherwise experience Sheffield," the report added.
Council officers are to consider whether the festival should have been called off on the Sunday, when torrential rain turned the site into a mud bath.
Straw and bark was put in place to protect the ground but the council did not anticipate how quickly the ground would deteriorate, the report said.
Matting then had to be removed before grass could be re-seeded, causing a delay in repairs, before a hot and dry start to September further delayed regrowth.