Sunday 19 May 2024
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Council wants action over unauthorised weddings in the woods

A Nottinghamshire council is requesting that enforcement action is taken after ‘unauthorised’ events including weddings have taken place in the woods.

The council says there has been an ongoing dispute over the activities taking place in Ramper Covert Wood off Mansfield Road in Arnold.

The local authority says there are “near daily emails” from residents documenting the activity at the site.

This includes more than 40 vehicles on site at a time, loud music until late in the evening and camper vans staying overnight.

In February 2022, a planning application was received for the change of use of land to form a wedding venue between June to the end of August.

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This included the siting of two tipis, a toilet trailer and renewable energy system.

The council says the proposals were very similar to those proposed in 2021, which were refused by the council and on appeal.

An inspector said the development would “significantly harm highway safety.”

This application was therefore refused in April and an appeal was lodged.

Following concerns by residents the site was still in operation, the council sent emails to both the owner and operator in June this year instructing that all ‘unauthorised structures’ should be removed as they had been on site for more than 28 days.

The council visited the site finding two separate areas for vehicle parking, adjacent to the A60.

A wooden stage with a wooden frame and canvas/tarpaulin covered with string lights was located immediately south of the tipi tents.

The owner confirmed that he had not given consent for this.

A small toilet trailer was located to the west of the tipi tents. When asked, the owner said this was for the sole use of the operator for its events.

Bench seating, tables and picnic benches were also found. The owner said that the site had been prepared for a wedding later that day.

During the site visit, the owner said that booked events for 2022 were not isolated to weddings. He advised that some limited camping takes place, mostly by those working on the site.

In July, emails were sent to the owner and operator of the site clarifying the council’s position with potential enforcement action.

The email acknowledged that the aim of the planning application and current appeal is to gain planning permission to operate the change of use, thus not relying on the permitted development 28 day rule.

The council said at the present time such permission does not exist for the site. Therefore any activities on site are assessed against the 28 day permitted development allowance, currently being the only means of operating the business in an authorised manner on site.

In addition, the council said the stage does not form part of the current planning appeal.

The council says the operator of the site advertises the venue on a dedicated website as well as via social media pages such as Facebook and Instagram.

According to their website, customers have exclusive hire of the whole venue and woodland including “use of our Giant Hat Tipis, rustic bench seating for up to 120 people, onsite toilets, lighting, electricity and water supply. Use of our bijou cabin and camping spaces is included in the price.”

No further contact has been received from either the owner or the operator of the site, the council said. However, the unauthorised use of the site and associated structures and facilities remains.

Planning officers are now calling on councillors to authorise enforcement action at a planning committee on July 27.

Council officers state: “A breach of planning control has been identified. The development has resulted in significant harm to the openness of the Green Belt, adverse impact on highway safety and harm to residential amenity.”

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