With this year’s Splendour in the grass having just wrapped up and seeming like a success, it’s now crunch time for the festival and its future at the North Byron Parklands site it’s inhabited for the past five years.

Having moved to the site as part of a trial agreement with the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports that the trial period is now up, with a decision needing to be made as to whether the area is capable of hosting events of this size without negatively impacting the local area.

Factors such as noise and traffic, as well as the environmental impacts of an event like Splendour, will all be taken into consideration as the Parklands submit a development application to become a permanent site for events.

Its proposal also includes an increase in patrons to 50,000 per day, a large jump from the 35,000 currently allowed, although the scale of the project and its value in excess of $30m categorises it as a “state significant development” and means it is required by law to be referred to the Department of Planning and Environment, putting the final say in the hands of the State government.

While this year’s festival seems to have run smoothly, with nothing like the huge transport delays that have impacted patrons in recent years, police have issued the site with a warning that a full evacuation of the event could take eight hours in an emergency situation, Fairfax reported earlier this year.

Tweed Byron LAC (local area command) Inspector Brendan Cullen claimed the site would present “major issues and the potential for disaster”, adding that “There is no possibility of evacuating North Byron Parklands within eight hours at current capacity levels,” in response to the request for a higher capacity.

North Byron Parklands general manager Mat Morris was confident, however, that patrons could be evacuated within half an hour, with the eight-hour time applying to a full evacuation of all vehicles.

“If we were to have a bushfire we have the ability to move all of patrons to a 500 hectare adjoining property which is completely free of vegetation within about 25 to 30 minutes.

“With flooding, again, that would be the same time for all patrons. That would mean loss of property, but patrons would be out.”

For now, the Inspector Cullen has said he can’t support the expanded application without his concerns about stretched police resources, improved emergency plans and road access were addressed, with the event also flagged as a potential high-risk target for terrorist activities.

This year’s event saw a ban on backpacks in the non-camping areas and extra security measures like a greater sniffer dog/riot squad presence and handheld metal-detectors in response to incidents like the Manchester terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande show last month.

With tickets having once again sold out in an instant this year and almost 20,000 people staying on-site, there’s a clear demand for an even larger event, but clearly plenty of logistical concerns to go along with it.

For now, the future of Splendour and the North Byron Parklands site are in the hands of the State Government.

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