Outrage after council snubs wedding plans

Mark Woodward, Green Directions
Mark Woodward, Green Directions

Five couples are having to find alternative wedding reception venues at short notice after the council refused to grant licences for them to be held on a farm in the Sheffield countryside.

Mark Woodward, who owns Green Directions at Townfield Head Farm, Stannington, was shocked when his applications to allow the celebrations in marquees and tipis this summer were rejected because of likely disturbance to neighbours.

He believed he was imposing conditions to guard against the noise and was following council instructions and advice. “We had no suggestion of this kind of outcome.”

The result, he said, is: “Five couples in the area have had their weddings turned upside down. It’s morally outrageous.”

“We have lost their business, but I have a moral obligation to help them. We have not had any problems from the wedding couples. They can see where the fault lies, with the council and officers.”

Obstacles started to appear when Mr Woodward applied for a premises licence for a camp site during the Tour de France.

This was refused following objections from neighbours and environmental protection officers concerned about late night noise. However, he said he was told he could apply for temporary event notices, which would allow the wedding receptions to go ahead.

Now, after the noise from two wedding receptions was monitored by environmental protection officers, this permission has been denied.

“The great proportion of the day there is not a lot of noise,” said Mr Woodward. “Dance music is from 8pm to 11pm and we have agreed the conditions. The band finishes at 11pm, the disco at 11.30pm and people are off site by 12.30am.” He said he had a noise limiter to help avoid any disturbance.

Mr Woodward has been building up the business - the ‘green’ conference element at the farm is unaffected - and he said he used local suppliers.

His applications for wedding receptions this year and next were rejected by a licensing committee after officers expressed concerns over “the significant potential for public nuisance”, such as noise from the entertainment, vehicles and “continued revelry by guests staying over and using camping facilities”.

Chair Coun Geoff Smith said “ongoing legal proceedings” meant the authority was unable to comment on specific details. But he added: “The council has to find a balance between supporting local businesses and carrying out its statutory responsibilities under the Licensing Act 2003, which includes the welfare of nearby residents. The council regrets any upset caused to those who had events booked with Green Directions, but it is for Mr Woodward to explain why he accepted bookings before having all the necessary approvals in place.”

At the same time, Mr Woodward is in line for planning permission to keep marquees and tipis permanently erected on the land for up to 68 days over the summer, despite objections. Mr Woodward has also been granted council permission for two ‘pop up’ restaurants on the farm.

First-hand experiences

Teachers Claire Ellis and Neil Wosahlo will marry at Sheffield register office on July 26, are searching for a new reception venue.

“What was meant to be the lovely lead up to our wedding day has now turned into a nightmare,” said Claire, 36.

Theresa Dever marries Stephen Smith at the end of August.

“I felt that it would have been only right to grant the people who have booked this year to allow them to go ahead, “ she said “Instead they leave us 74 days to find a new venue, which originally was the hardest part of the process.”

All the suppliers had been booked.“It’s not when you need so close to your big day.”