Divisive plans for a wedding venue at a country house have been given the green light – but fireworks and Chinese lanterns won’t be allowed.
The plans are spearheaded by event company Nunc Est Bibendum – Latin for “now is the time for drinking ” – which was formed in August 2020 by the owners of Ripple Court.
They bought the property that summer after it was marketed for £2.75m by agents Strutt and Parker, which described it as “one of east Kent’s most important country houses”.
Documents submitted to planning authority Dover District Council (DDC) show that the owners plan to keep the main house as a family home, using money generated from the wedding business to fund its upkeep, as well as that of other buildings in the grounds.
They say the 60ft marquee would be up between May and September and host up to 30 events a year, with no more than 120 guests at each.
Weddings would be held between midday and 11.30pm, with music stopping at 10.30pm.
But the application attracted fears from neighbours, who were concerned the gatherings will generate noise, disturb the tranquillity of the village and harm its wildlife, while others worried about traffic in the narrow country roads surrounding the site in Wingleton Lane, Ripple.
But others argue the proposals will provide a welcome boost to the local economy.
Jonathan Cronk, 74, who has lived nearby for 33 years and is “completely against” the plans, previously told KentOnline: “It will be disruptive and noisy to a way of life for people who have lived here for a long time.
“This is a quiet residential area – it isn’t designed for this kind of activity.
“It will disrupt us at the very time of year we want to enjoy our gardens in the evenings.”
Stephen Coveney, who also lives nearby with his wife Lucy Bagley, has concerns about increased noise and traffic.
“It will disrupt us at the very time of year we want to enjoy our gardens in the evenings…”
“A canvas marquee is thin so there will be the sound of discotheques, music and shouting, and people drunk – it is just unbelievable there is a planning application for this in such a small environment.
“People who have objected are also concerned about traffic racing up and down the roads, and drivers unfamiliar with the roads getting lost at night.”
Mark Batchelor said his garden is about 150 yards from where the marquee is proposed to be erected.
“In the evenings in the summer we like to sit out in the garden after work, and at the moment it is nice and quiet,” the 58-year-old said.
“Can you imagine someone else’s music stopping that?”
Other residents wrote to DDC expressing concerns for their horses which they ride in the area and loud noises spooking them, such as fireworks.
Opponents of the scheme also highlighted that there are already five wedding venues within two miles of Ripple Court, and 25 within 10.
But those in support say the plans will bring money into the area, with guests likely to stay at accommodation close by.
Jakub Gajewski said: “As a local employee and someone familiar with the beauty of Ripple Court I’m delighted at the opportunity for newlyweds to celebrate their vows at such an amazing place.
“It’s a great idea for additional income required to run and restore this magnificent property, and let’s not forget additional jobs and revenue streams for local businesses.
“This could have been left to rot and decay like many other properties of this grandeur, but due to the vision and drive of owners it will be there to enjoy for many generations.”
Local wedding photographer Philip Holyer wrote to the local authority to say he “wholeheartedly supports” the plans.
“There aren’t enough wedding venues locally and it would be good to have another,” he added.
“Weddings do get a bit loud and a bit rowdy. I do think we need to have security…”
However, at DDC’s planning meeting last night, Cllr Peter Jull was sceptical of this praise.
“I was surprised that one of the comments in support said there’s a lack of prestigious wedding venues in the area, well we seem to be getting one of these applications every other meeting,” he said.
Mr Batchelor attended the meeting to object, accusing the council of “moving the goalposts” by emphasising the economic benefits of the wedding venue.
He also expressed fears about the behaviour of guests.
“We would really appreciate security after 8pm because a lot of the behaviour that goes on is not expected but does happen at weddings, shouting, squealing, arguments, fighting,” he said.
Cllr David Cronk (Lab), agreed that a condition should be imposed on the development requiring security staff.
“Weddings do get a bit loud and a bit rowdy. I do think we need to have security,” he said.
Lawyer David Harvey attended the meeting to speak on behalf of the owners.
He told the committee the plans “would be creating both full and part time employment opportunities, with increased economic and employment benefits not just for the wider local area but across the district as a whole.”
He also told the committee that the applicants were willing to accept conditions which would ban fireworks, chinese lanterns and other pyrotechnics, and would have no problem with mandatory security after certain hours.
He assured members and residents that the marquee would be acoustically treated and the dancefloor enclosed within, so as to reduce noise disturbance to neighbours.
“Ripple court is first and foremost the applicants home and will be remaining as such, the applicants are committed to and passionate about creating a high-quality bespoke wedding venue, but in an appropriately sensitive, modest, and discrete way,” he added.
Dover District Council’s planning committee approved the plans with the added conditions with eight votes in favour and two against.