Vineyard near Cross-in-Hand granted alcohol licence

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A decision on a vineyard’s bid to sell wine during tours and tasting events has been made by councillors.

Wealden District Council’s licensing sub-committee has granted a licence allowing the sale of alcohol at the Beacon Down Vineyard near Cross-in-Hand.

Under the terms of the licence, the vineyard may use its site to sell its products online and during tours and wine tasting events.

However, the sub-committee opted to limit the number and scale of these events in light of a number of concerns raised by local residents.

In its written decision, the sub-committee said: “In order to promote the licensing objectives we believe it is necessary and appropriate to restrict the intensity of licensed use at the vineyard.

“To that end we have restricted by condition the sale of alcohol at up to 12 events per calendar year.

“At each event there shall be no more than 30 persons (excluding staff) on the whole of the Beacon Down Vineyard.”

The sub-committee noted the condition reflected the recent use of the site as put forward in correspondence between the council’s planning team and vineyard owners Paul and Alice Pippard.

It also added conditions requiring any noise or light generated on the premises – i.e. security flood lighting – would not cause a nuisance to neighbours.

Other conditions, meanwhile, require the vineyard to agree a noise management plan with the council’s environmental health team and to improve signage directing visitors to the site.

By limiting the numbers able to attend, the conditions go further than restrictions on previous events held at the vineyard under temporary event licences.

These events included a summer BBQ to celebrate the vineyard’s first vintage last year, which was attended by more than 100 people.

In light of this event, Mr and Mrs Pippard had requested that the number of guests be capped at 120 people for events held before 7pm.

However, the conditions do not go as far as those requested by neighbours during last week’s hearing.

In a list of requested conditions, neighbours had called on the sub-committee to limit the number of events to no more than seven per calendar year and to ban ‘weddings, festivals of any description, stag or hen parties or other forms of celebration on the premises’.

Neighbours also called for a condition which would prevent any product but wine produced at the vineyard from being sold on site. This condition was also not applied.

In its written decision, the sub-committee said: “We would like to express our gratitude to the applicants, the local residents, Counsel and the responsible authorities for the considerable care and work they have expended.

“It has greatly assisted us in making what we believe to be a balanced, appropriate and proportionate decision in the face of competing interests and concerns.

“Finally, may we express our hope and belief that Mr and Mrs Pippard will run their vineyard with a sense of responsibility and sensitivity towards the local community.

“We also hope and believe the local community will prove themselves to be good and tolerant neighbours to the operators of the vineyard.”

The sub-committee’s decision is open to appeal by any of the interested parties.