Holiday let allowed to keep trading despite 'party house' fears
PUBLISHED: 16:47 09 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:36 11 August 2019
A luxury holiday home described as a "party house" by concerned neighbours has been granted temporary permission to keep trading.
Liberty House in Market Weston, a rural village north-east of Bury St Edmunds, is an eight-bedroom holiday let that has been operating without planning consent.
Neighbours have complained of noise and disturbance at unsociable hours and say guests are inconsiderate to residents and road users.
The property's owner Juliet Hargrave admitted in the past a few guests had brought in their own sound systems, but that was stopped just under a year ago and "they are very strict now".
A statement with the retrospective "change of use" application said "the applicants feel that they are doing everything possible to mitigate any potential nuisance, and believe the site is now very-well managed".
This week, the application was approved by West Suffolk Council's planning committee for a year to allow the local authority to "effectively monitor how it goes," a spokesman said.
In total, there were 20 objections to the plans, but there were also three comments in favour, citing economic support for small business, the wider tourism benefits and a lack of adverse impact.
Representing some of the concerned neighbours, Birketts solicitors, said in response to the plans: "The nature of the comments and the experience of our clients indicate that the property is very clearly utilised as a weekend 'party house' which results in significant noise and traffic disturbance for local residents."
It added: "Our clients have informed us that the frequent parties and group gatherings result in screaming, shouting and music being played loudly throughout the duration of the weekends into the early hours of the morning.
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"This has resulted in numerous nights of lost sleep, and many incidents where are clients have been forced to leave their gardens and shut the doors and windows and turn up the television to mask the sound."
Mrs Hargrave said hen or stag parties are not allowed at Liberty House, which sits in three acres of grounds and boasts an indoor swimming pool and outdoor hot tub.
She said: "We don't want to upset the neighbours and we are doing everything we possibly can to mitigate noise, but as we have families, yes, you will hear children in the garden."
She added: "There is a process people can follow. If they want to complaint to the council they can do."
The planning statement said there is a strict noise policy that guests must sign and the marketing agents have very specific guidelines for the type of guests and their reasons for letting the property, which are enforced.
Mrs Hargrave added: "We would obviously have preferred it [planning consent] wasn't restricted to a year, but we think it's a fair outcome and we want to do the best for everybody."
After the planning meeting, Carol Bull, district councillor for Market Weston, said she believed the temporary approval was a sensible approach that was "fair to everyone, and I just hope it does work".
"I think on balance the applicant has said she's going to do a lot of mitigation and I think probably she needs to be given a chance."
She added: "I do feel very strongly for the residents in what is a very small, sleepy village."
The planning statement said the applicants believed no change of use had occurred, but planning officers said due to the scale of the property, lack of residential occupation and its current use as a holiday let planning permission was required.
At the meeting, plans for a single-storey side extension (following the demolition of an existing conservatory) and to install a sound absorbing fence were also approved.