A LIVE music festival is likely to become an annual event after councillors granted a premises licence - despite residents’ objections.
Last September, 8,500 music fans attended Hardwick Live at Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield, and enjoyed performances by Texas, Jools Holland and Alison Moyet.
Hotel owner, Ramside Estates, which was granted a one-day licence for one year only, hailed it a success and in March applied for a two-day licence so it can stage the event annually.
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However, the application attracted 12 letters of objection, including representations from Sedgefield Town Council and Sedgefield Residents’ Forum.
Today, (Tuesday, April 29), Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee heard from five objectors, including Joe McKenna, who lives 700 metres from the venue.
“They describe it as a family event but it was not a nice experience for my family,” he said.
“My two grandchildren were staying for the first time. We returned from a wedding at around 9pm and they couldn’t get to sleep until after the event finished.”
Julia Bowles, chair of Sedgefield Residents Forum, spoke of an “explosion of noise” at around 7pm and of loud sound checks at 8am on the Saturday morning.
She said householders were regularly disturbed by hotel events and it was the “cumulative impact” that prompted them to complain.
Stephen Robinson, a solicitor acting on behalf of Ramside Estates said the other events were covered by Hardwick Hall’s licence and were irrelevant to the application.
Councillors also heard that monitoring during Hardwick Live revealed noise remained within the acceptable level and less than five people had complained to either the hotel or the council’s environmental health team.
The committee granted a licence for a maximum of two consecutive days each year.
This includes the supply of alcohol and staging of live and recorded indoor and outdoor music, dance performances and similar activities from 5pm to 11pm on Friday and 10am to 11pm on Saturday, as well as the sale of refreshments between 11pm and midnight.
Additional conditions were set to prevent sound checks before 9.30am and for parking to be closely monitored to stop people sleeping in their cars.
The hotel was also encouraged to continue to meet with residents to seek their views.
Richard Agar, Hardwick Live production manager, said: “We are very pleased with the decision and are happy to continue consulting with the community.
"We actually suggested many of the conditions ourselves because we want this to work for everyone.”