A high-end Herefordshire events venue has concluded a long-running planning battle with its neighbours, but not entirely as it had wished.

Crumplebury Farm, near Whitbourne on the border with Worcestershire, which hosts weddings, corporate events and parties, gained permission back in 2017 to replace farm buildings with a hall, restaurant, conference space and accommodation, but on several conditions.

In a previous appeal, the venue's founder and managing director Joe Evans managed to overturn one such condition preventing weddings at the £3 million complex, which opened in 2019, but failed to get the cut-off time for music moved back from 11pm to midnight.

Now a further planning appeal has had the same mixed fortunes - leading it to consider offering guests a late-night “silent disco”.

Mr Evans had reapplied for the later music permission in light of a subsequent noise impact assessment, which he claimed showed an acoustic curtain was effective in cutting down noise as well as light from the venue.


But James and Fiona Hutchings of nearby “luxury glamping” business Redhill Holidays told the appeal that allowing events to continue until midnight would extend the period of light pollution as well as “crowd noise” they are subjected to.

“We have accepted the cars leaving at a reasonable hour from the venue, but to push this out to a later time would be highly detrimental to our business,” they said.

Robert Slater of Badley Wood said: “Music late into the night, followed by the slamming of car doors and voices as people leave the site, slightly inebriated, is totally unacceptable to neighbours in a quiet country environment.”

The National Trust, which owns the nearby Brockhampton Estate, also said it was “concerned about the potential for amplified music to disturb the residential amenity of dwellings in its ownership when played late at night”, as well as resultant late-night traffic noise.

Herefordshire Council’s own environmental health officer had said the later time would not cause a noise nuisance to neighbours, provided an agreed noise management plan was stuck to.

But planning inspector Lewis Condé judged that keeping to the 11pm limit was “reasonable and necessary to safeguard the living conditions of neighbouring residents”.

This was due not so much as to the likely disturbance from the music itself, as from the noise of the “staggered departure” of guests from the car park up to and beyond midnight, he said.

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On the second matter of the appeal, Mr Evans sought to remove a condition that permission for the venue was for the benefit of Mr and Mrs Evans only – a condition for which Mr Condé found “a lack of robust justification”.

Whitbourne Parish Council told the appeal that it was “obvious” that permission had only been granted to representatives of Whitbourne Estate, in which the venue lies, “given the very longstanding and historical relationship between the local community and the Evans family”.

Crumplebury owner Joe Evans “not only gave various undertakings and assurances concerning residential amenity, he made it clear that he had a ‘moral and neighbourly obligation’ to the local community”, the parish council said.

MR P N Priest submitted that allowing the Evanses to “sell this development to anyone” would mean the estate “would thereafter have no control as to how the site is managed or operated – the very reasons why (this) clause was originally imposed”.

“A new purchaser may even have less regard for disturbance/nuisance created from the operation of this site than Mr Evans does,” he added.

But despite these concerns, Mr Condé concluded that “any potential alternative operator would also be required to comply with the terms of the planning permission, including conditions imposed to safeguard the living conditions of neighbours”, and agreed to have the condition removed.

Mr Evans said: “At Crumplebury, we remain committed to being a force for good in our local community.

“Whilst we are disappointed that the inspector chose to rule against the views of planning officers and our colleagues in environmental health, we will of course respect the decision to limit our hours for amplified music to conclude at 11pm.

“In the future, we may consider ways of providing further assurances to the local authority that we are able to operate in a way that does not disturb the local community. But for the time being, we plan to offer our guests who would like to celebrate later into the evening the choice of using a silent disco.”

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