Croft residents battle wedding venue plans

The Croft Hotel. Picture: Google.

Residents of Croft have expressed horror after the new owners of a historic  hotel, wedding and function venue on the banks of the River Tees revealed an ambition to extend its alcohol and music licence until 2am every day of the week.

Residents have claimed their quality of life in the village near Darlington would be devastated if The Apartment Group is granted consent at a North Yorkshire Council hearing on Tuesday (August 8) to “operate a wedding factory on our doorstep” at the Croft Hotel.

When the grade II listed hotel was bought earlier this year by the firm, which describes itself as the region’s wedding experience market leader, it announced plans to create an event space and a chapel “like nothing else in the UK”.

In licensing documents submitted to the authority ahead of the hearing, at which councillors will decide whether to permit all, part or none of the licence variation, the firm has offered to abide by numerous conditions to be permitted to serve alcohol and play music into the early hours.

The proposed conditions include that the hotel will ensure noise from patrons, amplified music and live music “shall not be audible at the nearest noise sensitive property to the premises so as to cause statutory nuisance to nearby residents”.

Nevertheless, villagers have highlighted how 45 mid-week weddings have been booked for the coming year in the adjacent 12th century church, which features artefacts and carvings believed to inspired characters created by Alice In Wonderland author Lewis Carroll, whose father was rector of the church in the 1840s.

In one letter of objection, a resident wrote: “Effectively the proprietors are attempting to operate a wedding factory on our doorstep.”

Croft on Tees Parish Council said changing from an 11pm alcohol and music licence to a seven-day 2am venue would “create a great deal of anxiety and concern for our residents”, particularly ones living in properties in the hotel’s courtyard.

A council spokeswoman wrote: “St Peter’s Church in Croft is a popular setting for weddings and more and more are being carried out mid-week. With a lot of these weddings then using The Croft Hotel as a wedding reception, residents are going to be disturbed by the noise from loud music and the noise generated by wedding revelry.

“For this to continue until 2am any evening of the week would be devastating for many residents and have a huge impact on their daily lives.

“Croft enjoys a peaceful, rural setting and has a very strong sense of community which they have worked hard for. We have lived alongside The Croft Hotel for many years and see it as an asset to our area.”

In other letters of objection, residents said whenever there was a wedding or function at the hotel music resonated throughout the village.

They said it was “not reasonable for a single business to have such a large negative impact on so many local residents, at antisocial hours, simply for its own financial benefit”.