Roundhay Park could be used for parking during Ed Sheeran's Leeds gigs

Soldiers Field could accommodate thousands of cars when Ed Sheeran plays two outdoor concerts in Roundhay Park this summer.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:54 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 10:59 am
Soldiers Field

Site managers Leeds City Council are looking at a number of options to provide parking for an estimated 70,000 ticket holders who will attend the events over two nights in August.

Residents fear traffic chaos if more major events are held at Roundhay ParkThey've admitted that Soldiers Field - a vast expanse of grass at the southern end of the park - is in contention to be used as a temporary car park.

It is used for parking during other events, such as the World Series Triathlon and the North Leeds Food Festival, but these are smaller in scale.

Soldiers Field was also used for parking back in the 1980s and 90s, when super-concerts featuring artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2 and The Rolling Stones took place in the park.

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Robbie Williams was the last major single-artist gig at Roundhay - he played twice in 2006, when stringent measures were put in place to deter fans from parking in residential streets near the park.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said:-

"We have previously used Soldiers Field for car parking at these type of large-scale events, but we will assess its potential usage for the Ed Sheeran concerts as part of the traffic management plan that will be put together for this event."

Shuttle buses from the city centre are provided for events such as the triathlon and annual bonfire, and these could also run during the Ed Sheeran nights.

Roundhay residents have already expressed concern at Leeds City Council's plans to increase the park's events capacity from 20,000 to 80,000 - allowing the venue to regularly host big names once again.

Sara Dawson said that 'chaos' at last year's Bonfire Night fireworks display in the park has led to fears that traffic and parking issues would be exacerbated by the beauty spot hosting extra concerts.

"Wetherby Road was carnage - people were parking all over the road, buses were stuck, an ambulance wouldn't have been able to get through. We don't want these events monthly - it needs to be capped at four or five per year. We were under siege on Bonfire Night.

"There's also the issue of damage to the park - Love Parade (held in 2000) destroyed the grass and there was so much rubbish. It needs to be managed well. I'm not against events in the park and they're great for the economy, but there need to be measures in place to mitigate issues, such as extra buses or road closures."

During the Robbie Williams concerts in 2006, residents even found themselves handed fines for parking outside their own homes.

Roundhay Park's events licence was downgraded the same year due to a lack of demand for large concerts.

Why have there been no super-concerts at Roundhay Park for the last 13 years?

Leeds City Council confirmed that they have been approached by concert promoters representing major artists since 2006, but for various reasons relating to dates and feasibility, none of the proposed events were able to go ahead.

Since 2006, there has been a global recession and a huge shift in the way we consume music, meaning it has become harder for single acts to sell out large venues. It is expensive to hold a concert in Roundhay Park - the licensing and security costs are high - and promoters are less inclined to take the risk during a time period when downloading and streaming music has become increasingly popular.

The park's location in a residential area also means that large-scale events have to be carefully managed to avoid disruption for those living nearby. And in 2006, Leeds lacked a large music venue - the First Direct Arena did not open until 2013, although its capacity is significantly less than the park's was. In 2016, live music did make a successful return to Roundhay with the multi-artist OnRoundhay festival, which included James, Primal Scream and Wolf Alice on the bill.