Row over new north Norfolk wedding venue

 Simon Williams who is hoping to turn the reading rooms at the Old R

Simon Williams who is hoping to turn the reading rooms at the Old Rectory into a wedding reception venue in Alby. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A contentious bid to transform a former village reading room into an intimate wedding venue has been given councillors' blessings - despite objections.

A premises licence was granted this week providing a place for newlyweds to celebrate at the historic building next to Alby parish church.

However the decision, at a North Norfolk District Council licensing sub-committee meeting, was branded a 'disgrace' by objectors.

Owners Simon Williams and his wife Joanne had been granted planning permission to convert the reading room into a venue for weddings and receptions last year.

Alby Parish council chairman Barry Fitzpatrick told the meeting he did not know anyone in the village who had been in favour of the development.


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He said: 'This will result in a never ending series of objections, complaints and monitoring.

'It is a totally unreasonable intrusion into people's lives and completely at variance with the original building.'

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The licence allows live and recorded music to be played from 2pm to 11pm Sunday to Thursday and live music from 2pm to 11.30pm and recorded music 2pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Residents attending the meeting claimed their quality of life would be diminished by noise and disturbance.

Roy Benns, who lives close to the reading room, said: 'The proposal would destroy the character of the village.

'The graveyard is 30 yards from the venue, so people attending to loved ones' graves will have their peace and quiet reflection time ruined.'

Farm manager Mike England said: 'Allowing this venue will affect my right to enjoy my property and possessions.

'I believe there is a big potential for sleep deprivation and disturbance to my lifestyle.'

Mr and Mrs Willams bought the Old Rectory and neighbouring reading room after searching for about two years to find an ideal wedding venue.

Mrs Williams said the planning application had been supported by parish priest Canon Paul Thomas as it would provide more opportunities for the church to host wedding services and blessings.

She added: 'This is small intimate venue for up to 80 people. We are making significant investment to the building and securing the future for this heritage asset.

'It will provide a unique venue, offering a special and memorable day to couples and their guests.'

The history of the reading room is believed to date back centuries when there was a bid to provide education and social opportunities to the poorer social classes.

Committee members were advised that a covenant dating from 1984 preventing the use of the building for entertainment purposes could not be taken into account.

Angry objectors leaving the meeting said they would consider a legal appeal and described the decision a 'disgrace.'

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