Decision nears on Tramlines' move to Hillsborough Park in Sheffield

Music fans at Tramlines Festival in Sheffield - Picture: Dean Atkins
Music fans at Tramlines Festival in Sheffield - Picture: Dean Atkins
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A decision will be made next week on whether to allow Sheffield's Tramlines music festival to move to Hillsborough Park.

Members of the city council's licensing sub-committee are expected to give their verdict on the proposal at a Town Hall meeting next Thursday. If the green light is given, the festival will double its main stage audience by relocating from the 17,500-capacity Ponderosa, in Upperthorpe, for its 10th outing.

Organisers are applying for a three-year licence - the event will run from July 20 to 23 in 2018, and would then be repeated in Hillsborough in 2019/20 on dates yet to be agreed. The new suggested maximum capacity is 40,320.

An objection has been received from the environmental health service on noise grounds. Officer Jonathan Round said measures were put in place in previous years that resulted in 'only a few complaints', but the new location meant it would be 'very difficult to ensure noise levels are achievable at some of the nearest residential properties'.

Mr Round called for a feasibility report to be compiled 'by a suitable qualified acoustic consultant with experience of large-scale outdoor music events'.

Tramlines management have already agreed with police to mirror the conditions imposed on the Ponderosa licence - alcohol sales ending at 10.30pm on Friday and Saturday, and 9.30pm on the Sunday, and a live music curfew of 10pm each day. The idea of serving late-night refreshments has been dropped altogether.

Sarah Nulty, festival director, said in the application that the event had a 'track record for public safety' and that noise levels were closely monitored.

"We employ a consultancy who monitor all noise levels as well as assisting in site design to prevent noise leak where possible," she said.

A steering board was being set up, comprising local residents, which will 'feed into plans on noise and site build to ensure public nuisance does not arise', the director added.

"Over the last two years we have established operational meetings with the police that have proved invaluable. All our plans are submitted to them, we will work with the police within the site and will employ a security firm - Showsec - who are responsible for the crowd management plan and for the security onsite."

Ralph Broadbent, a key shareholder in the festival who would be named as the designated premises supervisor on the licence, previously said Hillsborough was the 'best place' for a relocated Tramlines 'all under one roof, in one park' in 2018, and admitted that no other similar-sized Sheffield parks were in the frame.

"We really want to make Hillsborough the central hub," he told a public meeting in September. "The option of going back to what we've done in previous years would inhibit us. That's not where we want to go."

However, he promised there was 'still going to be lots happening in the city centre.'

Richard Eyre, the council's head of major events who was one of Tramlines' founders in 2009, told the same September meeting that a change was necessary as the venture had become 'too successful'.

"It's outgrown the city centre. This is a great move," he said. "We think Hillsborough Park is the right site."

Sheffield band Arctic Monkeys have been mooted as a possible headliner.

A £1.2 million takeover bid by the Music City Foundation, which wanted to 'buy back' Tramlines earlier this year with the aim of protecting its free fringe element, did not receive shareholder approval and the group withdrew.

Instead the foundation is lining up a programme of concerts, events and education projects celebrating Sheffield's status as a 'city of sanctuary', along with its cultural industries and heritage. The non-profit organisation has a long-term target to hold 12 events a year under the banner of Sanctuary Way. Up to 10 venues could be involved, along a route stretching from The Wicker to Mount Pleasant Park in Sharrow and Bramall Lane.