The owner of a Grade II* listed hall has defended his latest planning application to host weddings, which neighbouring residents say will damage the peace of the village.
The change of use plans for Marston Hall, submitted to South Kesteven District Council in March, follows previous applications in 2010 relating to access to the site, which was refused, and a change of use plan, which was withdrawn.
Faced with the costs of ongoing repair work to the property, and concerns over what may happen to it if the family ever have to sell, owner John Thorold has decided to try again. “When these buildings go out of families, there is not a good record over what happens to them,” he said, adding that he considers himself the ‘guardian’ of the property, which has been in the Thorold family since 1380, and has records dating back to the Norman Conquest.
Mr Thorold stresses that the hall would remain primarily a family home, with only the downstairs rooms available for indoor weddings for no more than 60 people. This is a reduction from the 160 originally proposed, while the latest application no longer asks for marquee permission, and the maximum number of events has been revised from 50 down to 25 per year.
However, Mr Thorold is all too aware that his plans have caused some upset in the village. “I understand that there are concerns, but I think that these can be overstated,” he said. He demonstrated to the Journal how loud music on speakers currently at the property cannot be heard from outside, and he believes the hall’s front drive and an allocated space of land next to it will be sufficient parking, although he does admit they may need to make use of an overflow parking area at the other side of the village.
Traffic is a key worry for villagers. Steve Richards, who has lived on Barkston Road for 13 years, said: “Marston is the most beautiful and tranquil place. This is not just going to generate traffic from guests, that will spill out into the village, but also all the other cars and vehicles that come with a wedding.”
Furthermore, Mr Richards describes the application’s suggestion that by limiting the serving of alcohol to 9pm, guests will disperse by 9.30pm, as ‘fantasy land’. Both he and neighbour Jago Rideout also highlight that this comes with the proviso ‘unless exceptionally agreed in writing’. “Why put that in there unless they intend to let the events go on later?” added Mr Rideout. He added that many residents will object.
Mr Thorold argued:“It is not about having big, nightclub style parties here. The rooms aren’t big enough to take that many people, and of course I don’t want to see anything damaged.”
To view the application: search for s16/0802 at www.southkesteven.gov.uk