A Cambridge events company planning Christmas parties for up to 4,999 people in heated marquees on a farm which once hosted the Lodestar festival is under fire from an environmental health official over “concerns around public nuisance”.
Karen See, senior environmental health officer for East Cambridgeshire District Council, will present her concerns to a licensing subcommittee at 10am on December 7.
TR Events hope to host the parties at Sunnyridge Farm, Mill Road, Lode.
The company describes itself as “one of East Anglia’s most celebrated multi-service event management solutions for business”.
It was started by Tony Murdock, previously of The Quy Mill Hotel and Spa General Manager, and the chair of Cambridge’s charity annual event, The Cambridge Roar.
On its website it says, “we are back bigger and better in 2023 with our purpose-built Christmas party venue, located on private grounds near Anglesey Abbey, just 2 minutes from the A14 and 8 miles from Cambridge City Centre
And on their Facebook page they say, “Exciting news. The build of our Cambridge Christmas Party Venue has officially begun. We can’t wait to unveil this unique venue that will be the talk of the town this festive season.
“Whether you’re an event planner looking for the perfect spot, a local resident seeking merriment, or a corporation searching for an unforgettable Christmas party, this venue has something special in store for you.
“Stay tuned for more updates as we bring this one-of-a-kind celebration space to life.”
A premises licence application was made on October 25 by the site owner Doug Durrant and duly advertised but a report to the subcommittee says that “due to a few clerical issues that the applicant needed to resolve, the licensing authority was unable to validate the application until October 27.”
Because of this the consultation ran until November 24 and outlined the scale of the events proposed and covered alcohol sales, music, and opening hours.
The subcommittee will also be told that following representations from police and environmental health the event organisers had produced a list of conditions which they were happy to meet, and these will now be considered.
But Ms See will tell the committee that had they spoken to her department earlier they could have discussed the issues around public nuisance “from the holding of large party events within a marquee, and with live and amplified music associated with them”.
She says the applicant is suggesting up to 28 events over the Christmas period which is assumed to run from the beginning of December to early January each year.
Her report points out that the nearest house is less than 300m from the event site and the edge of Lodge 800m away.
“Marquees offer little in the way of noise insulation, especially of low frequency base music,” she says.
“The marquee is large and so likely to attract large numbers of attendees, presumably the focus being on high level party music throughout the evening until midnight where the ‘wind down’ period begins”.
She also queries noise and sound and says, “no reasonable adjustments can be applied to people noise within a party environment”.
Ms See also refers to the possibility of fireworks and pyrotechnics, and has concerns over them, and issues over traffic.
“I believe the granting of the licence as applied would have a detrimental impact on the prevention of public nuisance objective and I must therefore formally object to the granting of the licence,” she says.
However, she says “requirements moving forward to address my concerns” include a a full event management plan to be submitted and that “the event is run according to that plan”.
Her recommendations would include noise monitoring and a ban on fireworks with “any other form of pyrotechnics to be approved” only if noise impact issues are resolved.
Police licensing officer PS Ian Brown says the first he knew of the application was October 30 and he feels the applicant “has not sufficiently demonstrated how they are going to promote the licensing objectives, ensuring a safe event”.
He sets out a list of requirements that could satisfy police and these include an agreed event management plan, use of body worn cameras by security staff, retention of footage for 31 days, staff to have radios, and a written search policy.
PC Brown also offers guidance to ensure drug/alcohol policies are in place.
A second environmental health officer, Richard Garnett who looks at commercial issues, says safety issues surrounding guests arrival and departure and safety of the marquee need to be addressed within an event management plan.
The subcommittee will be told that the site is part of a working farm but also benefits from a live premises licence issued under the Licensing Act 2003 for Lodestar, which is held by Mr Durrant.
This licence has an attendance capacity of 14,999 providing the conditions of that licence are met.
“The Lodestar Festival itself has not been run for a number of years, but this does not affect the validity of the licence,” says the report to councillors.
“The existence of the Lodestar licence does not limit Mr Durrant’s rights to formally apply for and hold a second licence upon this land.”
A decision on the licence application is expected on the day.