Wedding venue given new licence despite claims of 'intolerable' noise

July 17 2019
Wedding venue given new licence despite claims of 'intolerable' noise

A WEDDING venue near Thornbury has been granted a licence extension, despite complaints from neighbours who claim noise from events is already “intolerable”.

Old Down Estate in Tockington has been hosting weddings and events since 2010, under a licence allowing alcohol sales and music in the manor house and the immediate surrounding area.

Yesterday that licence was extended to include a large neighbouring field, known as the Festival Field, below, within the 66-acre estate, which is owned by millionaire businessman Arron Banks and his wife Ekaterina.

Festival Field

An agent for the couple submitted the licence application and said that, other than weddings, the estate holds “occasional” events, mainly over summer.

But a South Gloucestershire Council licensing committee heard that a dozen Tockington residents had objected to the application, fearing the extension would only worsen what one called “intolerable” noise from music and fireworks that “rolls down the hillside” from the estate during events.

Villagers claimed the noise was so loud at times that it woke their sleeping children, “terrified” farm animals, and caused their windows to vibrate and a pet dog to “shake”.

But committee members were told that the council had not received any formal complaints about the estate in the past three years and decided that the terms of its new licence would prevent the noise from events becoming a public nuisance.

The committee heard that very loud fireworks were set off during a private Christmas party last December, but that the estate had banned that company from ever hiring the venue again because they had used the fireworks against their express instructions.

These [private functions] will be a lot more closely supervised in future,” the agent, Peter Rosser, said.

Professional fireworks are not allowed under the terms of the licence granted to the estate.

Fireworks cannot be any louder than 120 decibels, and all outdoor live and recorded music must stop by 11pm.

Festival-goers must wear wristbands, with a different colour for under-18s.

The licence terms also included a stipulation that “there shall be no painting of body parts that expose genitals or female breasts where those body parts may be exposed to children”.

No oxygen bars, shisha or hookah tobacco bars are permitted.

A building in the estate grounds, Foxholes Barn, will be the new wedding and events area.

Lauren Lever, the estate’s head of operations, told the committee that, other than weddings, Old Down Estate holds around half a dozen events a year.

These include events such as a garden party or county fair, open-air cinema, and fireworks on bonfire night in November.

Ms Lever said the estate usually hosts up to about 750 people at a time, and that most functions finish by 9pm.