NEWS ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

City council gives Exeter Chiefs permission to hold Sandy Park concerts with 15,500 attendees

Permanent consent for six weekend events between 1 May and 15 July each year with amplified music to 10.30pm follows four trial concerts with audiences of just 3,500.

Exeter city council Exeter chiefs

Exeter City Council has granted Exeter Chiefs rugby club planning permission to hold six concerts at Sandy Park stadium on Saturday and Sunday evenings between 1 May and 15 July each year.

Up to 15,500 attendees, including event workers, will be permitted at each concert, at which loud amplified music will be allowed from 4pm to 10.30pm.

The planning consent, which was granted at Monday’s council planning committee meeting, is for a permanent variation to a planning restriction which previously precluded Sandy Park stadium’s use as a music or performance venue.

The restriction was imposed when the club was given permission to double the stadium’s capacity eleven years ago.

The club’s application to alter the restriction relied on noise and transport impact surveys performed at four trial concerts held at the stadium in June despite none of the events being attended by more than 3,550 people.

The club was so confident that the council would allow the trial concerts that it began selling tickets two months before they were approved.

A council licensing committee had already granted another variation to allow the stadium’s use as a venue for boxing, wrestling, theatre, film and music events at the end of January.

Sandy Park stadium Sandy Park stadium. Image: Exeter City Council.

When the council gave the club permission to hold the trial concerts at the end of May, its planning committee heard accounts of extreme anti-social behaviour by visitors attending events at the stadium as well as other adverse impacts on local residents including noise, litter and traffic.

At Monday’s meeting public speaker Kevin Cook said the trial concerts, which prompted seventeen complaints, had led to similar noise, traffic and parking problems as well as drunken anti-social behaviour from event attendees.

However he added that many residents were now resigned to the club receiving planning consent for the events, describing the decision as a “fait accompli”.

He said many felt like “collateral damage”, adding that he was “horrified” that the consent would be permanent.

Mark Isaacs, speaking for Exeter Rugby Club, said that the trial events had been a success, with “very little impact on the surrounding environment”.

He said that the club had brought millions of pounds into the city, along with what he described as a “much-needed four star hotel”, saying it had generated “vital income to assist with the current cost of living crisis”.

When local ward councillor Anne Jobson suggested a 9.30pm Sunday concert noise curfew would be preferable to enable children living nearby to sleep, Mark Isaacs said the club had experimented with a 9.30pm finish but he had “felt” that the concerts could have continued later into the evening.

The meeting also heard that National Highways had requested that the main act at each concert would not begin before 9pm, with support acts on stage from 4pm onwards, to stagger the impact of event-generated traffic on nearby junction 30 of the M5.

Council development director Ian Collinson said that all the issues had been rigorously examined by independent experts who had found “no significant impacts” from the trial events.



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