The famous Bloom family of Bressingham has won permission to create a wedding venue in the grounds of their Grade II-listed hall, amid strong opposition in the village.
Two applications proposing the demolition and conversion of buildings at the rear of Bressingham Hall, based off the A1066, and a separate application to install a marquee at the site, all received conditional approval from South Norfolk Council this week, despite objections over its potential impact on the village.
Councillors voted unanimously to back the planning officer’s initial recommendation, which concluded: “The existing buildings are suitable for the proposed use and overall the scheme is sympathetic to the existing character and appearance of the listed building (Bressingham Hall), its setting and wider landscape.”
But opponents claimed they felt the council was “out of step” with the issue and argued that residents had not been given enough time to voice their concerns during the public consultation periods, the last of which ended on Monday, while Bressingham and Fersfield Parish Council also voted not to support the plans.
During the meeting at the South Norfolk Council’s Long Stratton offices on Wednesday, the planning committee heard conflicting evidence from consultants representing the applicant and the objectors, respectively, regarding potential noise levels from the venue.
Richard Young, a resident of Bressingham Lodge, near to the future site of the wedding venue, told the committee: “This proposal is not suitable for such a quiet rural area.
“We feel the current proposal is ill-conceived and riddled with inaccuracies. Unfortunately, some of the latest inaccuracies seem to have been overlooked.”
However, the committee members stated they felt they had to support the reports submitted by their own officers and determined the noise concerns could be mitigated to an acceptable level, providing the venue adhered to a management plan included as part of the application’s approval conditions.
According to the application’s case officer, some of the buildings behind Bressingham Hall had been demolished prior to the decision - an action deemed to be in breach of planning regulations - but the officer confirmed that whilst they did not condone this practice, there would be no retrospective objection from the council based on the merits of what had actually been removed.
Adrian Bloom, of the Blooms family businesses, said the venue plans were “part of a long-term strategy” to try to maintain the Bressingham Gardens, an attraction he described as “world famous.”
Mr Bloom said: “The existing businesses do not cover the costs of running the gardens. We considered a number of different options and we believe the proposal is the optimum use of the site.”
He added that the venue, which would be able to host various events, would have knock-on benefits for local commerce.
But Bressingham Parish Council told the committee meeting that the application did not give a clear indication of what opportunities would be created for local employment, as a result of business operations of the venue being overseen from London.
Leonora Pearce, parish council vice-chairman, said: “The parish council is very much in favour of business ventures that boost the local economy. However, after careful consideration, we are seriously concerned that the application is confusing and lacks clarity. It’s pertinent to the application to know what benefits would be accrued.”
But the agent representing the Blooms’ application insisted the development would create jobs locally.