Council asks The William Cecil to cut marquee noise

The William Cecil in High Street St Martin's, Stamford
The William Cecil in High Street St Martin's, Stamford
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A hotel has been asked to take extra measures to reduce noise from late-night parties after complaints from neighbours.

South Kesteven District Council’s alcohol, entertainment and late-night refreshment licensing committee imposed three conditions on the premises licence of The William Cecil in Stamford today (Friday).

The council ordered the hotel to put up an acoustic barrier between a marquee in its grounds and Park House, a Stamford High School boarding house, which lies 33ft away.

Councillors also asked the hotel to move a smoking area away from the marquee towards the main hotel building.

And a third condition required a designated duty manager to remain in the marquee at all times during any event held there. Councillors asked that the hotel notify neighbours and the council’s environmental health team of that person’s contact details.

The council’s solicitor Paul Rushworth said: “If environmental health receives further complaints the matter can be brought back for further review.”

The review was called by council officers after a series of complaints from the hotel’s neighbours about late-night noise from the marquee.

Officer Peter Rogers told the meeting that 15 noise complaints had been made since the hotel’s old marquee was replaced by a new one in August 2011.

Many had come from pupils living at the boarding house, with others from nearby residents. One incident involved an event on a Sunday night before important exams, when pupils were kept awake by the noise.

Mr Rogers played recordings made at two events in the marquee, one from October 6, 2012, and one from May 25, 2013. Music and voices could clearly be heard on both, although they were louder in the earlier recording.

Mr Rogers asked councillors to consider changing the hotel’s licence so marquee events with music had to finish at 9pm, or to limit the number of events to 12 per year, down from about 40.

He said: “What we are asking for here is a level of control I think that has been lacking throughout.”

Speaking in defence of the hotel were barrister James Rankin and Christoph Brooke, managing director of The William Cecil’s parent company Hillbrooke Hotels.

Mr Rankin said hotel management had not “sat on their hands” and ignored the issue. He said Mr Brooke had installed a £22,000 directional sound system and a temporary marquee lining costing £5,000 to try to reduce the noise.

Mr Brooke told councillors the eventual goal was to move the marquee away from the boarding house. He said a planning application had been submitted to achieve that.

Retrospective permission for the current marquee was refused by the council in July 2012, although an appeal into the decision will be heard by a planning inspector later this year.

Mr Brooke said the marquee was “crucial” to his business and added: “Without it there would be no business. We would have to cut our staff by 15 or 20 people.”

Mr Brooke offered to install another acoustic barrier at a cost of £14,000. He said this would take four to six weeks.

Coun Mark Ashberry (Lab) asked why events could not be held inside the hotel instead.

Mr Brooke said he had surveyed guests and found that they would not want to move from a wedding reception outside to a party inside.

Coun Jean Taylor (Con) asked what hotel management would do if permission for the new marquee location were refused.

Mr Brooke said: “It’s something we are worried about but I don’t have an answer to that.”

Stamford Endowed Schools principal Stephen Roberts and Park House resident and housemistress Catherine Vie both attended the meeting, although did not speak to councillors.

Following the meeting, Mr Roberts said he was disappointed with the decision.

A Hillbrooke Hotels spokesman said the hotel would comply with the conditions as soon as practicably possible and added:“The William Cecil, owned by the Burghley House Preservation Trust, is an important part of the local community, contributing to Stamford’s character and uniqueness, in addition to encouraging visitors to the area and providing local employment opportunities.

“We are fully committed to working closely with local residents and the council to ensure events at The William Cecil operate without disturbance in future.”