Police and villagers cite drug and noise fears over festival return

Cowles Drove in Hockwold from Station Road.

Urban Hydro Ltd has applied to stage another festival on land off Cowles Drove in Hockwold, - Credit: Google

Police and villagers have voiced their opposition to plans for a music and lifestyle festival to return to the Fens, citing concerns over drug use and noise disturbance from last year's event.

Organisers have applied for a licence to once again stage the show, Paradise Gardens, on land off Cowles Drove, Hockwold, near Brandon for five days in September.

The festival is billed as "the largest outdoor CBD [Cannabidiol - a chemical found in marijuana], hemp & hydroponics show in the UK".

A similar event was given the go-ahead last year despite objections from residents, after councillors concluded the promoters had put forward "a strong case" for it to go ahead.

In its latest application to West Norfolk council - seeking permission for the sale of alcohol, live music, dancing and late night refreshment - organisers Urban Hydro say between 5,000 and 9,999 people would be expected to attend this year's festival.

In its submission, the company says: "The campsites, car parks and event arena shall be patrolled by security and stewards during the event. Security staff will carry out random searches at the entrances to the event for drugs, offensive weapons and other contraband or prohibited items."

Chris Brooks, licensing officer for Norfolk police, said in a written objection: "Visitors to the site reported an all-embracing aromatic smell coming from the festival. I think it could be accepted this was probably from cannabis use.

"There was social media footage from the dance stage, of a DJ pulling on a large spliff, to the evident delight of the crowd and then blowing a pall of smoke to rapturous cheers and applause.

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"The company Urban Hydro uses the phrase 'innovative hydroponic and indoor growing technology'. There may be an innocent interpretation, but I think, in this context, this alludes to cannabis cultivation."

Residents claim they were disturbed by noise from last year's event.

One couple wrote: "We were at home during the last event and found the noise level to be excessive both outside and in. We could hear the music over our TV and given the lateness of this event, found it unacceptable."

Another objector adds: "The continuous noise beyond respectful hours not only disturbed our sleep but was torturous as the constant sound was stressful."

Hockwold cum Wilton Parish Council also objects. It says: "The effect of the amplified music on the rural setting will be extensive." 

Councillors meet to discuss the application on Wednesday, March 30.