Lytham Festival’s capacity could increase to 25,000 from 2024 as Cuffe and Taylor make new application

Lytham Festival’s organisers are hoping to increase the music event’s capacity to a whopping 25,000 people from 2024.

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Cuffe and Taylor have written to members of Lytham’s community liaison group – set up as part of a trial part increase for this year’s Festival – advising that they intend to proceed with a new application for increased capacity to 25,000 from next year.

The festival, which initially began as Lytham Proms for one night in 2010, has grown to the biggest such event in Lancashire in the years since.

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Up until 2022, capacity at the venue on Lytham Green was set at a maximum 19,999 by Fylde Council.

Promoters Cuffe and Taylor last year prepared an initial application for an increase to 29,999 for this year’s festival, for which performers are still to be announced.

But after it attracted some opposition, they modified their proposal ahead of the panel hearing to a maximum of 22,500 on the Friday and Sunday of the festival in 2023.

The other nights this year remained at 19,999, and the capacity on all days of the festival from 2024 onwards 24,999.

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The council agreed to the increase to 22,500 to be trailed during 2023, so that the decision on any further application for a permanent increase could be informed by the real-life experience of the two nights in 2023 to which the increase applies.

The council has also imposed a condition that Cuffe and Taylor should assist in setting up a community liaison group with a remit to facilitate discussion between the promoters and the local community about the festival.

Now, a letter sent to residents by the promoters says: “You will be aware that in 2023 we secured a Premises License to accommodate 22,500 festival goers on Lytham Green for two of our five nights of concerts.

“Our previous (and current) licence allows for 20,000 festival goers each night. Following the trial of this increased capacity when we reached the full 22,500 capacity on Friday, July 1, 2023, we carried out a detailed assessment of the impact. We sought advice and feedback from the Safety Advisory Group (who are made up of blue light services, environmental health, and health and safety personnel from the local authority).

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“In addition, with Fylde Borough Council, we jointly commissioned an Impact Assessment which was carried out by a third-party consultancy and market research company. Feedback was generally very positive and included learnings and comments which will help make the experience even more positive in future years. We were delighted to share some of these learnings and improvements planned for 2024 at the last focus group.

“Following receipt of the Lytham Festival 2023 Impact Report, which is being published jointly between ourselves and Fylde Borough Council this Thursday, we have decided to move forward with a new application for a Premises Licence for a capacity of 25,000 people each day.

“We are required to do this as our licence for 2023 permitted our increase to 22,500 for one year only.

“We encourage you to read the Lytham Festival 2023 Impact Report which we will send to you when it is published on Thursday morning. The report highlights evidential statistical information and findings following a detailed survey of residents, businesses and visitors.

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“There are also learnings from the report that we will use to continue to shape the future of the festival and benchmark our progress.

“At our previous licensing application hearing it was suggested we needed to be more ‘up front’. Therefore, we are making our plans public from day one. On Thursday the notice of the Premises Licence Application will be published on our website and it will be available via Fylde Borough Council. We will also publish the Impact Assessment in full and issue a press release.

“We do hope you will support the plan for the increased capacity. We appreciate you will have your own views and opinions and we do not seek to influence these beyond asking you to consider the full report. The Licensing Process remains a fully public consultation process and you can make any views (both for and against ) from this Friday, once the application is submitted via the Licensing Department at Fylde Borough Council and notices published online and around the festival site.

“We are writing to you personally ahead of this becoming public as you have afforded us as the organisers your time to make the festival a better experience. We didn’t want you to hear the news second hand or via social media!

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“We would point out our application for a Premises Licence falls into the fees bracket 20,000 – 29,999. You will note from the application that we have included a proposed condition on our licence that the maximum number of attendees permitted at any one time is 25,000. I know this caused some confusion last time, so we wanted to assure you that this is our intention, and it will also be made clear on the Public Notice displayed at the site, once the application has been submitted.”

Fylde Council’s licensing panel said in its decision take last year to increase the event capacity to 22,500 for two nights on a trial basis for the 2023 event: “It became clear during the hearing that the major concerns of the majority of those who objected to the application were not what went on within the festival site during the time the festival was held, but the impact on the community of Lytham of such a large number of people arriving for the festival, accessing it and leaving it.

“Objections highlighted issues around car parking, access to residential streets, the use of public spaces and private gardens as toilets and, in general, the impact of the festival on the day to day lives of local people and on some local businesses.

“We understand those concerns. Lytham is a small town, with a population in the region of 9,000. Even without the increased capacity that the application seeks, during the festival there can be twice as many people in Lytham who are attending the festival as people who live there.

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“There are many positive things about this. As the applicants and those who support the application pointed out, the festival has enhanced the profile of Lytham nationally, provides a significant boost to some local businesses (particularly those in the hospitality sector), and generally engenders local pride.

“Very few of those who objected expressed opposition to the festival per se. Many were careful to stress that their issue was only with the intended increase in the number of people who can attend.

“We share the concerns about the effect on the community of an increase in the number of people who can attend the festival.

“While the increase in the footprint of the licenced area will mean that a greater number of people can be safely accommodated in the arena itself, we were not persuaded that there is capacity in Lytham to absorb the additional numbers who would visit for the festival, even as reduced by the condition offered by the applicant.

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“It was clear from the evidence we heard that daily life for many in Lytham is made less convenient during the festival, and for some is made highly inconvenient.

"For many, getting access to their homes in a vehicle becomes something that has to be planned for and even negotiated. For others, rowdiness and anti-social behaviour, even to the extent of the use of public and private open spaces for toilet provision, becomes a regular occurrence. Increasing the number of people visiting the festival risks such problems getting worse.

“We acknowledge that issues around parking and access are outside the direct control of the applicant. We also acknowledge that the behaviour of people who have attended the festival cannot be controlled by the applicant after they have left the festival.

“Licensing authorities should not normally take matters that occur away from the licenced premises into account when considering applications for premises licences but in this case we believe that there is good reason to depart from the guidance and to take the off-site impact of the festival into account.

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“The overriding impact of the festival on the day-to-day life of significant parts of the local community means that it would be wholly artificial to disregard the public nuisance impacts of the festival that occur outside the licenced area when considering the application. Our decision therefore takes those impacts into account.

“The success of the festival depends in a sense on a partnership between the organisers and the local community, who accept the

disruption that comes with the festival for the positives that it brings.

“An increase to 24,999 is, in our judgment, a step too far. Increasing the capacity of the event by 25 per cent would cause significant risk of the impacts on the community being elevated to an unacceptable level. While the increase proposed for 2023, to 22,500 persons, is smaller, it is far from immaterial.

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“We feel that it would be appropriate for the increase to 22,500 to be trialed during 2023, so that the decision on any further application for a permanent increase could be informed by the real -life experience of the two nights in 2023 to which the increase applies.

“We also take on board the suggestion, which was accepted by the applicants, that the present community engagement measures should be set out in a condition and subject to the oversight of the council.”

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