"Sensitive documents" push back decision on Sheffield culture festival facing opposition from council

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall
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Sheffield City Council’s licensing sub-committee have postponed a meeting to decide whether a “weekend of art, music and poetry” will go ahead after environment officers said it would be too noisy.

A meeting to discuss the planning application for a weekend of "music, art and poetry" which will run from midnight to 5.30am on Exchange Street, Castlegate, was thrown when new documents were brought to the table.

In the report submitted to the committee, Dalton Kershaw, organiser of the event, said: “The weekend will include performances from musicians, artists, poets and DJs from Sheffield and further afield. Music styles include live acoustic music, guitar based music and electronic dance music.

“There will be live music, both amplified and unamplified, playback of recorded and electronic music, performances of spoken word poetry and project visual art.”

But the Council’s Environmental Protection Service objected saying the venue had recently received multiple complaints about noise.

At the meeting, Bob Singh, environmental protection officer, brought new documents relating to the objection of the application and said much of the information, which included sensitive email correspondence, should remain private to protect those named.

Councillor Josie Paszek, chair of the committee, said in light of the new documents they needed more time before coming to a decision.

She said: “In terms of natural justice, we need time to read, or hear, and absorb that information.

“The only other opportunity we would have had would’ve been to go ahead with the bundle as we have it - which is just basically one email which we don’t think would’ve been appropriate. We are here to look at cases under the licensing objectives so we are going to adjourn until Tuesday.”

She added that there will be redactions to the document but it will be heard in public. “Wherever possible, we do like to hear these things in public for openness and transparency. Clearly, if there is evidence in there that can’t be shared publicly we will ask press and public to step outside. But we want to keep that to a minimum.”

Time is running out for the decision to be made as the festival was set to go ahead next Saturday, May 19.

The organisers said they have worked closely with the Council and undertaken sound monitoring readings at the venue and in the past year, held multiple music events there.

However, Mr Singh said: “This is located in a mixed commercial and residential area with relatively low background noise levels throughout the late evening. As such, there is enhanced potential to give rise to complaints relating to public nuisance.

“In particular, we are concerned that residents in close proximity will potentially be affected by noise breakout of entertainment, patrons outside the premises and dispersing into the surrounding areas.

“Plot 22 is subject to a significant number of public nuisance complaints and the proposed temporary event notice is likely to result in excessive noise. The hours applied for are excessive, in particular for entertainment to 5.30am.”

Mr Singh says the fabric of the building means it doesn’t contain noise of amplified music. “We have offered proactive advice and made recommendations to control the noise and how to effectively managed patrons.

“However, following several meetings and discussions, the sound attenuation works have not been complected to a satisfactory level and we continue to receive complaints of public nuisance.”

A decision is set to be made on Tuesday, May 15.