Noise report puts expanded Harrogate Town FC into the clear

Work has been completed on an expansion at Harrogate Town FC's Wetherby Road ground.
Work has been completed on an expansion at Harrogate Town FC's Wetherby Road ground.

An independent report into sound levels at Harrogate Town FC's expanded home ground has found no discernible increase in noise following the addition of three new terraces.

The report, compiled for the club by Apex Acoustics, compared noise levels at Town's April 22 win over Gateshead this year with a match in December 2016.

Harrogate Town's managing director Garry Plant welcomed the analysis and said it brought to an end a hectic period of work at the ground, which included the construction of the new terraces before the club received council permission.

"The acoustic test found no discernible difference really, it's an independent test and independent body," Mr Plant said.

"It's been a trying time for us all, but we've got there in the end."

Important crossroads in Harrogate Town AFC's future - here's everything you need to know
In their report, Apex Acoustics found the overall noise level during the 2019 match was 56 decibels, compared to 54 in 2016.

There was an increase of about 1000 spectators between the games, with 600 at the 2016 match compared to 1600 this year.

The football club has submitted the report and an update on noise screening measures for verification to the Borough Council.

As part of their planning requirements, the club has also installed wood panelling with noise-cancelling installation to reduce sound on the new terraces.

The report comes after the club were retrospectively granted planning permission in April for the three new terraces, which bolstered the ground's capacity to 4000.

Harrogate Town stated it had to commence work on the terraces before receiving council approval in order to meet a tight deadline imposed by the English Football League (EFL) following the club's promotion to the National League in May 2018.

The EFL's stipulations meant Harrogate Town had to increase the capacity of the ground to 4000 to comply with the sporting authority's requirements, as well as to "future proof" the ground should the first team be promoted again.

During that meeting, Harrogate Councillor Chris Aldred accused the club of treating "both local residents and the planning process with, at best, a lack of respect, and at worst total contempt" in building before gaining approval.

Concerns were also raised about the impact the increased crowds could have on parking around the club's Wetherby Road headquarters. However, councillors voted unanimously in favour of approving the terraces.

Mr Plant said that after spending a season in the National League, the club had a better understanding of when big attendances could be expected.

"Now we've been in the league for a season, we can fairly well estimate what kinds of crowds we will get for individual fixtures," he said.

He added the club was maintaining regular correspondence with nearby residents, following a newsletter drop starting earlier this year.

"We're doing regular newsletters to inform them of developments at the ground," he said.

The club earlier this week announced the signing of 20-year-old defender Will Smith from Barnsley FC.
Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter