Closure of the unauthorized wedding and party venue

A WOMAN lost an appeal against an order to close an unauthorized wedding and party venue.

Penny Holley, owner of The Copse in Mill Lane, Kidmore End, started hosting up to 120 people in 2016.

She appealed an order issued by the South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, in 2019 to stop the events after neighbors complained.

The council said Ms Holley could still offer vacation rentals to smaller groups, as she had done for years with permission, but issued an enforcement notice prohibiting other uses.

She was also ordered to remove a “dining platform”, a patio area with a marquee, which the council said was built without consent, and to demolish a wall of hay bales that she has erected like a sound barrier.

Planning inspector Paul Dignan, who heard the appeal in a virtual hearing in March, has now confirmed the council’s decision, saying the use of the seven-bedroom property for weddings had caused ” disturbances to neighbors ”and“ harmed the characteristic tranquility of the surface ”.

Ms Holley first rented the main house part-time in 2003 before moving into the adjacent three-bedroom cottage in 2007 when her husband Tim fell ill. When rentals at the property, which also has a two-bedroom barn, increased, guests told Ms Holley it would be a good wedding venue. In 2016, therefore, she obtained a license to hold Oxfordshire County Council ceremonies.

During the investigation, Mrs Holley argued that the change was only an “intensification” of the use of the vacation rental, so that the celebrations were covered by the consent given to her in 2002 for “recreation and reunion” purposes.

However, Mr Dignan said: “In my opinion there are considerable differences between renting a house for up to 18 people, mainly for vacation purposes, and having weddings where 100 to 150 people can get together for the day. “

He said wedding events increased traffic at Mill Lane, which was a “narrow single lane” as it was used by guests, caterers, florists and more.

Mr Dignan said: “This is likely to inconvenience other road users and possibly increase the risk to other road users by increased use of the sub-standard junction with the A4074.

“The number of additional people using the grounds also requires substantial outdoor lighting and yardage throughout the day, including on Mill Lane and the entrance to the amusement park from Tokers Green Lane.”

Ms Holley, who bought The Copse with her husband in 2000, said neighbors’ complaints about traffic and noise were “unreasonable” and argued that the parts were “incidental” to the primary use of the property .

She said 120 guests made no more noise than 20 if they behaved well and disagreed with comments describing the place as a “party house.”

Mr Dignan acknowledged Ms Holley’s efforts to mitigate the noise nuisance by erecting the marquee and straw bale wall near the boundary with one of the neighboring properties, but felt the noise was still causing nuisance.

He said: “I consider that, even with the best will in the world, noise will be generated which will be audible in some of the neighboring residential properties and that sometimes it will be at volumes and / or frequencies that will cause disturbance and damage. . to living conditions.

“The use of the unauthorized marquee structure to contain noise from speeches and so on is also of concern given that it is the subject of an execution notice requiring its removal.”

Mr Dignan acknowledged that traffic and noise from the events could be managed by assembling and directing attendees to parts of the site, but said this would involve relying on “unauthorized operational development”.

Ms Holley also argued that the board failed to properly serve her notices in 2019, due to a spelling mistake in her address, and that in any event she was immune from enforcement action.

Mr. Dignan said he was dismissing the appeal, subject to the address being corrected.

The board extended the compliance period over Ms. Holley’s fears that it would have a “disproportionately negative” financial impact if she could not honor existing bookings.

The last wedding event is scheduled to take place on October 2.

The council also said it would allow the continuation of wedding celebrations that had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The council first investigated the neighbors’ complaints in September 2018. It issued a noise abatement advisory which Ms Holley did not obey and she must be prosecuted for it.

He says weddings and parties would not be allowed if she requested them due to the planning conditions needed to avoid disruption, such as a ban on making noise after 10 p.m. and a ban on using the public. grounds after 9pm, which would deter potential customers.

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