To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery, (copy enclosed).
Prior to consideration of this item of business the Chairman asked all parties present at the meeting to introduce themselves. The Chairman then sought confirmation that all present were in possession of and had read the report of the Director of Service Delivery along with Appendices A – C.
The Licensing Lead Officer outlined the application for a Premises Licence at Crouch Ridge Vineyards, Fambridge Road, Althorne, Nr Chelmsford, Essex, CM3 6BZ.
The Chairman then explained the procedures that would be followed and invited the Applicant, Mr Lonergan to make his opening statement.
Mr Lonergan provided background information regarding the establishment of the Crouch Ridge Vineyard (the Vineyard), its current business which consisted of online sales, sales through external events with limited supply to local businesses. Granting of the premise licence would enable the business to contribute to local tourism including generate employment etc. and sell wines direct from the premise. Members were informed that the Maldon District had been identified as one of the best areas for growing wine and Crouch Ridge Vineyards was one of a few vineyards that grew and created wines for sale within the District. Mr Lonergan outlined how they would promote the licensing objectives and noted that that the responsible authorities had not objected to the application.
The Chairman advised that there were no responsible authorities present and called on the interested parties wishing to speak to address the Committee, reminding them that points raised must relate to licensing matters.
Mr Inkpen referred to the vineyard being an asset to the village but there was a need to balance commercial aspects with the desires of villagers. When referring to planning permission, he was reminded by the Chairman that planning was an entirely separate matter and not for this Committee to consider. Mr Inkpen continued referring to the commercialisation of the site being an ongoing nuisance and how the increase in parking would impact on the prevention of public nuisance and referred to a number of points within the Officers’ report and appendices. Mr Inkpen commented on the number of increased entries and exits onto the site which would cause problems on the B1010. In response to these and other points raised by Mr Inkpen, the Council’s Solicitor advised Members that legally the only point they could consider was public nuisance as no evidence or statistics had been put forward and not all matters raised were relevant to the Sub-Committee.
At this point, Councillor M F L Durham declared an interest in this item of business as he had a personal licence along with considerable experience in the licensing trade. In response to questions raised by Mr Inkpen, Councillor Durham advised that the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) did not have to be on the premises, however the conduct of the premises fell under them, so it was their responsibility to ensure that staff had specific training etc. If the licence was granted, the opening hours would be as detailed on the application form. In respect of music, this was not included on the licence applied for, but Councillor Durham explained that for functions of 500 or less the provision of live or recorded music was not a licensable function.
Dr Collins, another interested party, then addressed the Committee. Advising that she lived opposite the barn (the subject of this licence application), Dr Collins referred to the applied hours of opening and the possible number of events that would require Temporary Event Notices (TEN). Referring to previous events held shed advised Members that there had been issues with noise levels which had resulted in complaints being made to the Council’s Environmental Health Department. Dr Collins advised that the barn had no sound proofing to prevent disturbance to local residents during local events. The Chairman advised that this matter would be dealt with as part of the TEN application process. In response to a question, it was clarified that only the Police and Environmental Health would have the opportunity to comment on a TEN application. Dr Collins continued referring to the planned events, as detailed on the vineyard’s website, the proposed opening seven days a week and how a noise management plan could help to negate a lot of the residents’ concerns. She also referred to some other matters which the Chairman advised were not matters for consideration by the Sub-Committee.
In response to a comment raised by Dr Collins regarding notice of the hearing date, the Licensing Lead Officer confirmed that in accordance with legislation all requirements had been met. The Council’s Solicitor further advised that the requirements for signage and consultations were set out within regulations and these had been complied with.
The closing statement from the applicant followed, during which Mr Lonergan outlined how he felt the four licensing objectives had been met. He reported that he had taken sound recordings during the last two events held at the vineyard and during the peak time the noise was 87 decibels. Mr Lonergan explained how the vineyard was bringing something unique to the area, Althorne was a lovely village and they wanted to keep it that way. However, there would be more people visiting the area whether through visiting Crouch Ridge or other vineyards due to the Crouch Valley being singled out as a premier growing area.