Essex weddings: Coggeshall venue Stock Street Farm Barn vows to fight after being banned from holding events by Braintree District Council

An Essex wedding venue has vowed to fight an enforcement notice which has banned them from holding future weddings. Stock Street Farm Barn, in Coggeshall, has reassured brides and grooms that the venue will remain open as things stand while they appeal the decision.

Braintree District Council issued the enforcement notice against the venue due to claims that it does not have the relevant planning permission to host events such as weddings and cinema screenings. But the venue insists leisure use is “safe and optimal”, claiming that they have never had any complaints in the six years it has held a premises licence.

Gabrielle Spray, cabinet member for Planning and Infrastructure at Braintree District Council, said the enforcement action had been taken as the council did not believe Stock Street Farm Barn was a sustainable location to hold the events. She added that the council did not believe there was adequate parking facilities on the site.

Read more:The latest news from the Braintree district

Stock Street Farm Barn has said it has gone to “extraordinary” lengths to submit modified plans, saying they requested permission from the council to submit an application on April 1 this year, but claim this was “trumpeted” by the council’s announcement this week.

The venue has said since the news broke they have had many concerned brides and grooms contacting them asking if their wedding will be cancelled. But bosses have insisted they will remain open during the appeal period against the enforcement.

A spokesperson for the venue said: “We regret Braintree District Council is choosing to take action against our family business in response to concerns from residents, members and enforcement parish councils about in the district. Our business has developed a place in the hearts of expanding Coggeshall and beyond, members of the council from this area support our business and so do local parish councils and we also feature in the new Coggeshall Neighborhood Plan.

“With no complaints from the public, council officers or highways in 6 years of operating within our premises licence, first granted in 2016 and renewed enforcement annually, we find this heavy handed approach to be at odds with the council’s stated goals. We have demonstrated That leisure use is the safe optimally viable use and has enhanced and maintained the listed setting with zero heritage harm. Specialist heritage officers have never visited the site in 6 years of operations.

“In November 2019 Highways England approved access arrangements and max parking capacity relative to our stated guest capacity and these have been implemented and managed without any development, heritage harm or incident. We have made extraordinary attempts to submit modified plans. In 2020 officers refused to allow a new planning application to be consulted publicly and on the 1st April 2022 we asked permission to submit a new modified application but this was refused by their press statement trumpeting the start of their enforcement process.

“With no listed building consent required for our revised plans, we expected the notional change of planning use to be discussed collaboratively and regularised with our existing unblemished premises license, however, it now seems that this local issue will be decided by an Independent Planning Inspector and this could take months.

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“Of a particular concern was the content of the council press statement on Mondays leading to calls from distressed brides, birthday hosts and local businesses and acts – desperate to find out if we are still open. During the appeal period we will be open as usual. We don’t know how long this will take but expect at least 12 months.”

Bosses at the venue went on to thank residents for the messages of support it had received this week, adding: “Please also remember our wonderful couples, celebration hosts, local businesses, brilliant suppliers, music and comedy acts and the wider local economy that are all suffering the effects of this heavy handed and mis targeted council action.”

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