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New music festival for north Cornwall is refused licence

New music festival for north Cornwall is refused licence

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 9:32am 9th May 2019. (Updated at 6:09pm 9th May 2019)

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

A new music, food and wellbeing festival has been refused a licence despite having sold hundreds of tickets.

Porthilly Spirit festival was due to take place in less than three weeks’ time on a farm site near Rock over the late May bank holiday weekend.

Top names including Tom Odell, Villagers and Mystery Jets were set to perform while a number of pop-up restaurants were also due to set up camp.

However an application for a licence for the three-day event was refused by Cornwall Council’s Licensing Act sub committee.

The three-strong committee refused the licence saying that it was unconvinced by a traffic management plan for the event and also had concerns about other site management issues.

It came after 64 objections were received by the council in response to the application with local residents concerned about traffic, noise, crime and disorder.

But the applicants said they had a team of people working on the festival who had been involved in a number of other similar events.

Will Hermann, owner of Trefresa Farm, where the event was set to be held, told the committee that the festival was a stepping stone to a bigger, long-term plan to create a boutique hotel and spa on the site and hold events.

Mr Hermann said the new resort would have restaurants on site and would be a year-round venue for tourists.

He said: “It will regenerate the farm for the next 100 years. This farm has the ability to do that and that is the ambition.

“We want to create something for the local community and wider for Cornwall.

“The purpose of the events is to showcase the ethos of what we want to create.”

He said that was why the programme of events was so important as it gives an idea of what would be provided at the resort in the long-term.

“This represents a substantial and long-term investment in the area for us,” he added. “We want to help people to understand what we are trying to do.”

The applicants had submitted comprehensive reports to the committee detailing every part of the management of the event and the site, from footpaths to noise levels.

And a number of experts gave evidence backing up the reports and stating that they felt the plans were sufficient to ensure the event was problem free.

The applicants said it was in their interests to ensure the event went smoothly to ensure that when they come back with more permanent plans they would get the support of the council and relevant authorities.

Objectors said their main concerns were around traffic, noise, crime and disorder.

The committee heard that the police had raised no objections or concerns about crime and disorder after working with the applicants over their plans and policies for the event.

Residents objecting said there could be “chaos” due to the amount of traffic which could be generated by the event combined with what is always a busy time of year over a bank holiday weekend.

There were concerns that a single track road was not suitable to carry the number of vehicles which might be going to and from the site.

A representative for a group of residents said they were not Nimbys (Not in my backyard) but more of the view that “this backyard is not suitable”. He said that while the applicants had “all the best intentions” the site was not appropriate for such an event.

The applicants said they had reduced the capacity of the event from 3,000 to 2,000 – including 600 staff – to ease concerns and had also redrawn their traffic management plan and other plans to address concerns.

But the licensing committee – after a seven-hour meeting and one hour in private debate – decided to refuse permission.

They said they were concerned about the roads leading to the site and the safety of road users and pedestrians.

The committee acknowledged that the traffic management plan had been altered but said it “did not go far enough to address their concerns”.

They were also concerned that some of the events were taking place off site and about the footpaths which run around the site.

As a result they did not believe the application complied with the Licensing Act objectives.

The applicants were told they had the right to appeal the decision in the local magistrates’ court.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Herrmann said: “Regrettably, after extensive work done by the Porthilly Spirit team, we are very disappointed with the decision reached by the licensing committee this evening to refuse the application for this year’s event.

“This is despite having reached positive agreements with all the statutory authorities, and who, as a result, had withdrawn their representations and felt that the hearing was no longer necessary.

“We will now be evaluating the reasons behind the decision and plan to outline our next steps for Porthilly Spirit 2019 by Monday (13th May).”

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