Highbury residents win fight against Arsenal concert increase

Emirates Stadium

Emirates Stadium - Credit: Archant

Frustrated families battling Arsenal’s plans to double the number of concerts held at the Emirates Stadium have won their battle.

Mesut Ozil

Mesut Ozil - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Inspector David Smith today (January 16) upheld the decision made by councillors in July, rejecting plans to double the number of gigs allowed in a year at the venue from three to six.

He said the main reason for rejecting the appeal was the negative effect the increase would have on “living conditions of nearby residents... with particular reference to noise and disturbance and transport.”

It was argued that these considerations far outweighed the economic benefits to the borough.

Mr Smith also threw out the Premier League pace setters claims that the club needed the money from the concerts to compete at the highest level, even citing £42million summer signing Mesut Özil as evidence to the contrary.

The Gunners expressed their disappointment at the decision and said they will be considering their options.

Councillors whose wards cover the stadium’s surrounding streets and housing blocks expressed their delight at the decision.

Most Read

Cllr John Gilbert, Lib Dem member for Highbury East, said: “This is great news for residents and Highbury, and shows what can be done when we stand up to the club.

“This proposal was one a step to far. Residents said no, Highbury said no, and we are delighted the planning inspectorate said no.”

Cllr Andy Hull, Labour Member for Highbury West, said: “The planning inspector’s decision is good news.

“At the appeal hearing, we spoke against Arsenal on behalf of the many residents who told us that the council had got it right on this and the club were striking the wrong balance between their commercial interests and the interests of the local community.”

The planning inspector David Smith spent more than a week in December visiting the stadium and listening to residents effected by the concerts.

In his report Mr Smith wrote: “[The] Concerts cause significant disruption to the quality of life of many of those living in the vicinity. Even though they are relatively short-lived the noise at the time is “unbearable” for some.

“This effect would be exacerbated by increasing the number of occasions that this would occur. Those affected would not just be those in older properties as the use of balconies and other external areas at the new residential units would be compromised.”

One of the clubs main arguments against the original decision was that the concerts were of economic benefit to the borough and that the money was needed for the club to buy players and compete at the highest level.

“Whatever the actual figures it is common ground that the proposed concerts would not bring about additional economic benefits to the country as a whole,” the report reads.

“This is because if they did not take place at the Emirates they would still occur somewhere in the UK. If a concert did take place elsewhere in London, such as at Wembley or Twickenham, there would still be some benefits to Islington, albeit that these would be much less than if it was held within the Borough.

“If the club is unable to pay the salaries of the top players and retain them that would be a matter of regret to its supporters as on-field success would be less likely to materialise. However, although no concerts are currently scheduled this did not prevent it from spending some £42 million to acquire the services of Mesut Özil.

“More to the point, little weight can be given to the fortunes of Arsenal Football Club as a material planning consideration especially as there is

no firm indication that its community programme would have to be scrapped should the appeal be unsuccessful.”

An Arsenal spokesperson said: “Having lodged an appeal, we are disappointed by the decision to reject the application and will now consider our options.”