Council to consider use of Belfast’s Boucher Road for gigs after noise complaints over Ed Sheeran concerts – unnamed resident says that it ‘disturbs the quiet enjoyment of his home’

Councillors are to debate complaints that gigs held in south Belfast are too loud, with one council officer saying they could make out the lyrics sung by Ed Sheeran from roughly a mile away.

By Adam Kula
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 5:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 5:33 pm

The meeting of Belfast City Council’s licencing committee tomorrow night will look into the use of Boucher Road playing fields to stage live music concerts.

It it owned by the council and has been used for this purpose for about the last 10 years – most recently for staging a gig by English songwriting superstar Ed Sheeran on May 12 and 13 (his crazy-looking stage can be seen in the video attached to this story).

The playing fields are in a largely commercial / industrial zone which borders the motorway on one side and the Balmoral and Village neighbourhoods on the other.

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Ed Sheeran performing on stage at Boucher Road Playing Fields in Belfast. Picture date: Thursday May 12, 2022.

They are capable of accommodating tens of thousands of fans.

The application before councillors tomorrow night is for a renewal of a 14-day licence, so the venue can be hired out to promoters.

The applicant for the licence is actually the council itself – specifically its City and Neighbourhoods Services Department.

Even though the council owns the grounds, and is the one applying for permission to use them, it still has to go to its own licencing committee for approval.

The application was made all the way back last August, and it only now being considered.

An objection to granting the licence was made as a result of “noise nuisance arising from a number of concerts in September 2021”, according to the documents the councillors will consider.

An unnamed objector “explained that when concerts take place in Boucher Road Playing fields he is disturbed by loud music”, and wanted “to prevent further concerts from taking place”.

The council sent staff out to monitor noise levels during the recent Ed Sheeran gigs, and the paperwork shows that “indicative readings were taken in the Malone Road area”.

The Malone Road, at its closest point to the playing fields, is about 0.9 miles away.

Whilst the music volume fell “within agreed guidelines” the monitoring officer noted that “during the song Shape of You he could hear the lyrics, and during Bad Habits, which was the last song, the bass beat was very fast and the lyrics were audible”.

In summary, the objector “has complained numerous times over the years regarding noise disturbance caused by concerts at Boucher Road Playing Fields,” saying that it disturbs his “quiet enjoyment of his home”.

Ultimately he wants concerts moved to an indoor venue.

A look through the other documents councillors will consider tomorrow night shows that previous gigs at the playing fields have drawn complaints from as far away as Knockbreda (about two miles to the east), the Four Winds (slightly further east still) and “the Holywood area” (which is several miles away to the north-east).

Tomorrow evening’s meeting is set to begin at 5pm at Belfast City Hall.

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