A wedding venue has been granted permission to extend its opening hours which it says will not be used to “prolong the party” but to limit disturbance from guests when leaving. 

Avalen Weddings at Avalen Farm, near Bodmin, had applied to Cornwall Council to alter its existing licence so it can serve drinks until 11pm and close at midnight.

The application was granted by the council’s licensing act sub-committee when it met last week. The committee had heard from nearby local residents who had raised concerns about safety and noise.

Under the changes the venue is only able to serve drinks for an extra 30 minutes, going from 10.30pm to 11pm, and the opening hours changing from 11pm to midnight. Objectors claimed that this could lead to more disturbance for local residents.

One local claimed it could increase the risk of people drink driving when leaving the venue whilst another local claimed that music being played at the venue made it “like living next door to a nightclub”.

Kate Marshall, who does not live nearby but was speaking on behalf of her mother Jane Hoskin who lives close to the farm, told the committee she was very concerned about the application. She claimed there could be a “very serious drink driving risk”.

Mrs Marshall said that as a small hamlet people in Fenton Pitts “will quite frequently visit each other on foot”. She added: “If any of them were to encounter a drink driver on their way home late at night that potentially could be a very serious and tragic issue.”

And she added: “When I was growing up in Fenton Pitts it was a completely safe place for me to play, I could walk down the road to visit friends and neighbours on my own or riding my pony. It was entirely safe and I wouldn’t encounter a car. These narrow roads, tourists have a lot of difficulty getting used to them.”

Robert Danneau said  he had lived in the area for eight years and had moved to Fenton Pitts “because of where it is”. 

He added: “We didn’t move here to live next door to, honestly, it is like living next door to a nightclub. The music is horrendous.”

Ross Hugo, who spoke on behalf of his mother the applicant, highlighted to the committee that there were no plans to extend the time that music would be played and said the noise levels were regularly monitored. He also offered to pay for an independent company to monitor noise levels in neighbours’ homes to make sure that they were not being affected.

Mr Hugo explained the farm had launched the wedding venue as part of a diversification of the site which has previously seen them convert barns into holiday accommodation. He said the only reason to extend the licence was to allow guests to wait inside the venue for their taxis and lifts home to prevent them waiting outside and causing a noise.

He said the venue had never had any complaints from the police of environmental health about any incidents linked to the farm and said that no guests would ever be allowed to leave the venue and drink drive stating that it would be illegal. Mr Hugo said they had staff who monitored the car park and would not allow anyone to drive if they had been drinking.

The committee heard that the venue often arranged for a minibus to take guests from the site and had also worked with local taxi companies to make sure that they could access the venue easily as there had been issues when it first opened with people having difficulty locating it.

Mr Hugo said that weddings were hosted mainly on Wednesdays and Saturdays and said there were seven more Wednesday weddings planned this year and 24 on Saturdays. He said that the venue was also sometimes used to host charity events and funeral wakes.

He told the committee that music would end at 11pm as it does now under the current licence. He added: “The additional hour is not to prolong the party, it is to get people to wait for their organised transport inside, that is all. It is not to allow people to leave past midnight.”

The committee unanimously agreed to grant the variation to the licence, noting that there had not been any representations from any of the responsible authorities. They said they noted the representations from local people but said there was no evidence that the proposed changes would prevent the licencing policy from being followed.