Eight premises licences sought for festival site

An event being held at Springfield Farm. Picture: Submitted by Vik Josh of Springfield Farm

An event being held at Springfield Farm. Picture: Submitted by Vik Josh of Springfield Farm - Credit: Vik Josh of Springfield Farm

Eight different applications have been submitted to licence an outdoor site in St Albans for festivals.

Each one of the those applications seeks permission to run festivals – lasting up to three days – at the Springfield Farm site, Old Parkbury Lane.

They were considered individually at consecutive meetings of St Albans council’s licensing sub-committee.

A number of residents had objected to the applications, pointing to concerns about noise and public nuisance, and references were made to the Tearout Festival at the site in 2019 – which had led to dozens of noise complaints.

Gary Davis, chair of the Napsbury Park Residents Association, said the 1,300 residents in Napsbury Park were in the "direct line of fire" of the speaker system.

“We don’t object to people enjoying themselves – having fun,” he said.

“What we do have to object to is our residents being disturbed for 22 individual weeks. And that, quite frankly, is just unfair.”

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Mr Davis said their objections stemmed from their experiences of the Tearout event in 2019, when sound levels meant residents could not sit out in their gardens or open their windows.

Another objector, Alex Matthewson, also pointed to sound levels – which he said were higher because of the site's proximity to the M25.

He warned that the applications for so many festivals were a "creeping development of the Green Belt".

A number of written objections also highlighted disturbance from previous festivals, which were said to be “extremely noisy and disruptive” and out of character with the Green Belt.
One objection states: “My house is located around half a mile away from the site and yet we can still hear the extremely loud music for hours on end.”

But at the hearing solicitor Bernard Ralph – who spoke on behalf of the applicants and site operator Vic Josh – urged councillors to back the applications for the "well-established" site.

He suggested there had been "no noise breakout" from the site aside from the event in 2019.

He also suggested that since 2019 some residents had assumed noise had come from the Springfield site, when it had not: “I think this is a very responsibly run venue, that’s proven by the fact that – apart from one event – there have been no real issues with its operation.

“We have heard a lot of conjecture about what it could be doing and how much impact it might have – but we have had no detailed specific examples effectively supporting that.”

Mr Ralph also pointed to the absence of any representations from responsible authorities against any of the applications, which he suggested did speak volumes.

“I think that we should be given an opportunity to contribute to the economy locally – and I think this licensed venue does that.

“And it does provide good opportunities for people who are in sore need of something to do now life is getting somewhat back to normal.”

At the hearing, councillors were told that – under the terms of the proposed conditions – each applicant would be limited to one event per calendar quarter and each event limited to a maximum of three days.

Theoretically that could have given the green light to 32 separate festivals in a year.

But at the meeting an amendment was suggested by the applicant that would limit events at the site to 28 days a year.

Site operator Vic Josh also told the hearing that this year those events would be scheduled between the end of June and the end of September.

The hours of opening – and for the sale of alcohol – requested on the applications varied,  with the latest running until 2am.

The sub-committee concluded the hearings in public, to make a decision after private deliberations.

A further six applications for the same site are due to be considered by the same sub-committee on Friday.