Gin-making lessons and Georgian dinners are on the agenda at an historic mansion in rural Staffordshire now owned by TV star Charles Hanson.
The auctioneer, who has appeared on shows including Flog It! and Bargain Hunt, has been granted permission to stage live music and theatre and cinema screenings, as well as serve alcohol in the grounds of Bishton Hall.
The Grade II*-listed Georgian mansion was previously home to St Bede’s School, before becoming a Staffordshire showroom for Hansons Auctioneers.
A tea room has also opened at the venue near Wolseley Bridge, south of Stafford. And Mr Hanson now plans to expand activities to include a ‘gin lab’ in a former classroom and cultural events in the grounds of the hall.
But the request for a licence to hold outdoor shows until 11pm, seven days a week, has not proved music to the ears of several residents living nearby. They raised concerns about noise issues from a one-off event last year.
Stafford Borough Council received 15 objections to the premises licence application for Bishton Hall, as well as a letter of support.
Speaking at a licensing sub-committee hearing this week, resident Keith Colson said: “I’m a retired person and I have lived here 15 years. It has always been a peaceful rural area.
“The noise is going to be excessive; the licence covers so many events with no control over when these events are going to be. I heard these events are going to be over by 7pm, which is something I find hard to believe. If that’s the case, that’s a bit more bearable.
“The noise will destroy the tranquillity of this area and the traffic that will run up and down is a great concern as there is a very sharp bend when coming in and out of the premises.”
Fellow objector Michael Moseley said: “We have got two young children – a six-year-old and a three-year-old – both of whose bedrooms face Bishton Hall. The noise will be going on past 7pm and ,if this licence is granted, it will affect my children’s sleep patterns. Noise is going to come across the field.”
NHS key worker Helen Jenkinson highlighted the potential impact of noise on residents who work shifts. “It’s not a problem with the hall itself or events,” she said. “What I couldn’t acclimatise to is every single weekend being disturbed.
“There are enough events that go on at Sandon Hall and Cannock Chase, where there are no residential settings around them. I would plead to you from the shift workers that live up and down the lane to consider their shift patterns and the need for them to get their rest.”
There were no objections raised to the application by the police and the council’s environmental health department.
Mr Hanson said he wished to respect the history of Bishton Hall and the tranquillity of the surrounding area.
“I’m a father and I live next to a pub. My wife works in the NHS and it has been a very difficult year”, he told the hearing.
“I want to open a gin lab. It’s not going to be a bar and we’re not holding parties or large events. It is not a late licence request.
“It used to be school and we have ample parking on site and on the adjacent field which won’t affect residents. We had a sound report done and the conclusion is, although some events may cause a bit of noise, by the time it gets to houses, it’s no louder than trains or large lorries that can go up and down the road. Highways raise no objections.
“We want to add culture to Bishton Hall, not raves. I am not a raver or a party person. I want to preserve the history of Bishton Hall, from doing Georgian dinners to gin making. The gin lab (would be) in an old classroom, for up to 24 people to learn how to blend their own gin during the day.”
Licensing sub-committee members agreed to grant the premises licence after hearing Mr Hanson had agreed three licensing conditions with the council’s environmental health team.
The measures to be put in place are notices at the venue’s exits, asking visitors to leave quietly, a noise management plan and a procedure to deal with any nuisance complaints relating to licensable activities.