Application made for 15 large events at Ludlow Castle over coming summers

Leeds based company Future Sound Events has applied for a licence to hold up to 15 events, each with a maximum audience of 7,000, at Ludlow Castle from 2024. Shropshire Council is consulting on the licence. Comments to licensing@shropshire.gov.uk by 21 December.

Should this be approved, up to 21 days in the castle will be dedicated to ticketed events between the beginning of May and the end of September. Allowing for set up and take down time, the castle and Events Square could be closed for around one in three days over the summer season.

The planned events will bring trade and entertainment to the town. They will also change the nature of our visitor economy. The castle is on the itinerary of many visitors coming to Ludlow but it will be a toss of the coin over whether they will be able to go in the castle. On the other hand, concert goers could flock to the town.

Ludlow Castle hosted four very success events earlier in the year, including Bastille, Kaiser Chiefs and Nile Rogers. These events, organised by Future Sounds, were packed out giving a major boost to the economy. I supported the events despite some local objections. The events gave the town a buzz it rarely sees. That outweighed any disturbance and inconvenience.

That was one event weekend over the summer and plans are for it to be repeated next year with Anne-Marie and Madness already lined up. The question is whether that success can be scaled up from four big events a year to 15 events. To this must be added the six days of events for the September Ludlow Food Festival and the Ludlow Spring Festival, which moves back into the castle next year. (The castle already has a licence for events up to 4,999 people 365 days a year.)

Concert stages and facilities such as toilets need to be set up in advance of an event. This is usually done the day before with structures and facilities taken down a day after. For the food festivals, there are seven days of closure for each of the three days of events.

To provide a rough estimate of how long the castle will be closed to casual visitors, I have estimated that for every day an event is held, 1.5 additional days are needed for setting up and clearing events.

This estimate suggests the castle will be closed to visitors for more than 50 days over the May to September season (which is 152 days). That’s around one day in three. That concerns me as the castle is one of the major tourist attractions in Ludlow, along with St Laurence’s Church, the Buttercross Museum, our independent shops traders and award winning market. And of course, the cafes, resturants and pubs.

It is not just the castle that will be closed. Events Square, which is immediately outside the castle, will be closed for the same period. This space, which is managed by the town council will be out of use for half the summer. During the 2023 concerts in the castle, Castle Street car park was reserved for concert managers and contractors and concert goers with VIP tickets. I objected to that but Shropshire Council wanted the extra income.

Future Sound Events may decide that Ludlow can’t attract enough concert goers to justify 15 events a year. But as the company has applied for this number, the licence application must be judged on the number of events it thinks it could host here.

The concerts will provide a boost to the hospitality economy in Ludlow. People will come for a couple of days and stop overnight. They will eat and drink in out pubs, cafes and resturants. They might shop in out independent retailers and on the market.

Local people will go to concerts but they will need to have spare cash to go to more than a couple of concerts at £60 a time (plus agency charge).

Ludlow Rugby Club has offered to host car parking at £6 a time.

Ludlow town centre is a residential area as well as being a retail hub. That’s one of its attractions. Noise at concerts is strictly controlled but an increase in the number of concerts will mean they will experience a lot of noise. What is music to the ears in the castle is often a noise nuisance outside. (Although many people sit on Whitcliffe to hear the music for free.)

Shrewsbury Quarry is probably the most comparable venue in the county to Ludlow Castle. Shrewsbury Town Council limits music events to 13 a year, 11 events are limited to 70db and two to 75db.

Future Sound Events has applied for music to continue to 11.00pm, not midnight as in the current castle licence. However, a 10:30pm curfew would create less disturbance for nearby residents. The licence plan does not propose a decibel maximum, just that the sound level should be within industry norms.

Representations in favour or against the proposed licence should be sent to licencing@shropshire.gov.uk by 21 December. These should address the licencing objectives against which the application will be judged:

  1. General comments relating to all four of the licencing objectives below
  2. The prevention of crime and disorder
  3. Public safety
  4. The prevention of public nuisance
  5. The protection of children from harm.

6 comments on Application made for 15 large events at Ludlow Castle over coming summers

  1. The Castle owners need business to maintain the place but are they prepared to keep the usual slot free for what is now the last major Castle based locally generated event – the September Food Festival ?

  2. I have previously lived in another town that became beholden to the visitor economy, the result being a fairly miserable place for locals. Ludlow is fearfully sliding this way.
    Any voice of dissent is shouted down by the chorus of all money is good money, progress…
    But for this short-lived stampede to cash in on the same kind of events that take place elsewhere ( and profits to a non-Ludlow based company) the essence of what makes Ludlow special will be gone.

  3. The castle needs lots of money to keep it running, I am told. But this smells of pure profiteering to me. I was told by many people of the smell and noise nuisances of cars in the Castle area and noise nuisance to people in New Road Bank. Some of these had young children trying to get to sleep. I think they are asking for too many events and noise and audience levels need to be reduced. The concerts should not be allowed to continue after 10.30 p.m. Can’t some sort of Park and Ride system be rigged up to keep all those cars out of the centre of the town? How can they shop in the market if it is not allowed due to the events.

  4. This application is absurd. The 4 days of concert last year, whilst making money for Powys Estate and Leeds based Future Sound Events and some (not all) local businesses caused a great public nuisance, inconvenience, and distress to local residents resulting from road closure and the high volume of sound. The fact that a couple of companies will make some money from this new proposal does not justify the distress to local residents. This is sheer exploitation of the residents of a fine historic town. This application should be rejected

  5. I support this application.
    There are many benefits to the town.
    The upkeep of the castle is expensive and this generated an income, with other businesses such as the Rugby club being used to support this.
    It brings to the town a lot of individuals that may never have come, which may entice them back.
    These individuals book hotels and guest houses.
    This is only a few positives.

  6. This fine historic town is dying on its feet. Shops are empty, businesses are struggling and the visitor offer is diminishing by the day. The town and county councils seem to think Ludlow can get by on its reputation alone, but this is not reality. The festivals offer the local economy a welcome boost. Of course there should not be too many, but to turn our backs on such an opportunity would be Madness.

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