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'No festivals' pledge made during Northwold licensing hearing

A businessman says he would not host large-scale music events on a site in a West Norfolk village if a premises licence is granted for it.

A decision is expected in the next few days on the plan for the Dove Barn site in Thetford Road, Northwold, following a borough council licensing hearing yesterday.

Dozens of people living in Northwold and neighbouring villages have objected to the application, with many highlighting alleged misbehaviour by people attending a music event there in September.

Concerns about safety on the A134 at Northwold are outside the licensing regime, councillors were told. Picture: Google (43190926)
Concerns about safety on the A134 at Northwold are outside the licensing regime, councillors were told. Picture: Google (43190926)

But applicant Thomas Janes told the hearing his primary interest was in running the site as a wedding venue and the expressed intention to hold events on other special occasions was “a mistake.”

He said: “We’re not looking to host large festivals. We’re not looking to bring people in from other areas.

“We are local people and we’re looking to offer something to the community.”

However, during a hearing which lasted more than three hours, Northwold parish council chairman Cliff Anderson suggested his staff had “lost control” during the September event, even though the number of people present was below the maximum 300 limit agreed by the applicant.

He also claimed nearby residents had experienced trespassing and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Janes insisted no issues had been raised with him and said he would have resolved complaints on the day if they had been.

He also claimed he had engaged with local residents prior to the event taking place.

But Mr Anderson argued residents had not known who to contact at the time and claimed he had not spoken to any member of the parish council or residents.

The three-member panel was told that no responsible authority, such as the police or fire service, had made representations on the application.

And legal adviser Hema Patel said concerns about the potential public health implications of the proposal relating to coronavirus, together with concerns about safety on the nearby A134, were not covered by the licensing regime.

Ward councillor Tom Ryves, who has called for councils to be given additional powers on such issues because of the pandemic, suggested the application would not have attracted the same level of public concern without the September event.

A decision has to be made and communicated to interested parties within five working days of the hearing.

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