A FLINTSHIRE based holiday retreat has been refused permission to sell alcohol from a tipi and play recorded music due to noise concerns.
Herons Lake Retreat in Caerwys applied to Flintshire Council seeking to vary its alcohol licence to add a tipi with a small bar inside, and to play recorded music at the premises.
The council’s licensing sub-committee sat to hear an application made by Andrew Arbour, the manager of the retreat, which provides lodge breaks and hot tub holidays in the countryside.
Currently the venue, which has been running for nine years, has a licence to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises at an on-site shop from Monday to Thursday, 9am–10.30pm, Friday and Saturday, 9am–11pm, and Sunday, 10am–10pm.
The variation application was to change the sale of alcohol to ‘on and off sales’, adding a tipi to the licensed area with a small bar inside and an external seating area.
It also included adding recorded music to the licence, to allow music to be played from Monday to Thursday during the hours of 9am–10.30pm, Friday and Saturday, 9am-11pm, and Sunday, 10am–10pm.
Neil Shellard, the council’s pollution control officer, had undertaken a site visit earlier this month and flagged up a number of concerns.
One of these was noise pollution, that the canvas material the Tipi is made from would not insulate against sound, and that any shouting or raised voices would also be audible by residents living nearby.
He said: “It was immediately apparent that there are air gaps at the base of the tipi tent and also at the top.
“This is a concern to me as air gaps leak noise. There are 17 properties within 100 metres of the tipi and five of these properties have garden boundaries which are within 50 metres.
“There is also a small lake, sound bounces off water, it doesn’t absorb noise. There is a cattery to the north east of the site. I believe the amplified sound will travel over 40 or 50 metres to people’s homes.”
Applicant Mr Arbour said the retreat would look to put limits on decibel levels, and potentially use directional speakers to mitigate noise, with soft jazz style music intended for background ambience in the tipi by the lake – which can hold up to 25 people.
He said: “We market ourselves as a quiet retreat, it’s a key reason why people come here.
“The idea of retreat is somewhere you can relax, enjoy nature. People play their own music on their phones while they sit and drink and look over the lake at the sunset.
“The last of our lodges is within 10 metres of the tipi. It’s not in our interests at all to cause any nuisance or inconvenience to our own customers let alone our neighbours. We would be damaging our own business.”
But ward member Caerwys Cllr Steve Copple (Ind) spoke at the meeting on behalf of a dozen residents with strong objections due to noise, both from people and recorded music.
He said: “Each letter is focused on one main key issue – noise.
“The people who live there are conscious of sound and on a still night sound will carry.
“There is nothing there to mitigate the problem. They were there first and would like it to remain as it is as a quiet location.”
Mr Arbour refuted allegations from neighbours the site was “unruly” and said it had a ‘quiet’ policy after 9.30pm.
He added: “We’re not a Club 18-30, we are Herons Retreat, our customers range from age 25 to 85, it’s not in our interest to have noise pollution on our site.
“These aren’t rowdy groups, people don’t come in large groups, it’s a couple or a mum and dad group with a child coming for a relaxing weekend.”
Chairing the meeting, Greenfield Cllr Rosetta Dolphin (Eagle) gave the committee’s decision to refuse the licence application.
She said: “The licensing sub-committee was satisfied there is evidence that the variation to include licensable activities and outside seating area would create a public nuisance caused by the escape of noise.
“In coming to this decision the view of the pollution control officer was given significant weight and the residents’ views were also taken into account.
“We were not satisfied that the proposed measures demonstrated how the licencing objectives in particular the prevention of public nuisance will be met.”
The decision does not affect the applicant’s current licence permissions, and they also have a right to appeal.