Ambitions for an environmentally friendly wedding venue and conference centre on the rural edge of Sheffield – and to use it as a camp site during the Tour de France – have suffered a setback in a licensing dispute.
The owner of Green Directions at Stannington says he will appeal after the council refused him a premises licence following objections from neighbours and environmental protection officers worried about late night noise.
Mark Woodward will still be able to use Townfield Head Farm for weddings and other events under canvas, but he will have to apply for a temporary event notice in each case, with the risk of objections.
The premises licence would allow him to stay open until 1am at weekends, with music and alcohol no later than 11.30pm, without having to go back to the council each time.
Mr Woodward’s plans for a campsite for the Tour de France have also been hit because current restrictions on his business limit number of visitors to 499 – and he is hoping to attract more, spending £25,000 on costs including toilet and shower blocks.
He launched Green Directions three years ago as a conference and training centre in the green belt after renovating the farm and installing wind turbines, a solar panel and ground source heat pumps.
Tents are used for outdoor weddings and pop-up restaurants. There has been one wedding a year for each of the past three summers, and ten are booked for this year, the intended maximum.
Mr Woodward said he applied for the premises licence to formalise his approach on the advice of the council, only to be knocked back, throwing his plans into “chaos”.
Green Directions was part of the rural economy, with spin-offs for local food producers and other small businesses, he said.
“We have had no problems with the temporary events licences and we feel we have done everything by the book. We are trying to attract people into the city and to give them a really nice time and we are just getting grief.”
Councillors refused a premises licence after environmental protection officers raised concerns about the impact for “nearby noise sensitive properties” in a “quiet rural setting”.
Three objections came from neighbours, complaining of loud music late at night.
Licensing committee chairman Clive Skelton said it had been a difficult decision, and normally a licence would be granted with conditions, but in this case it had not been possible to resolve the situation.