The applicant has applied for a new Premises Licence in respect of Rainham Boot Fair, South Bush Lane, Rainham, Kent, ME8 8PS. All responsible authorities have been consulted in line with the Licensing Act 2003.
The application is before Members as representations have been received from a members of the public, Hartlip Residents Action Group and Environmental Protection. To date no agreement has been reached. Agreement has been reached between the Applicant and the Police.
The Chairman advised that the process the hearing would follow was set out on page 4 of the agenda pack.
The Licensing Officer stated that an application for a new premises licence in respect of Rainham Boot Fair, South Bush Lane, Rainham, Kent ME8 8PS, had been received, to include:
Plays, Films, Indoor Sporting Events, Boxing and Wrestling, Live Music,
Recorded Music, Performance of Dance, Anything of a similar description,
Late Night Refreshment and Sale of Alcohol.
Monday to Sunday 09:00 to 01:00.
The Applicant had subsequently amended his application by removing, Live
Music, Indoor Sporting Events, Boxing and Wrestling and Sale of Alcohol.
The application had been correctly advertised in the local press and notices displayed at the premises for the required timescale.
The Licensing Officer confirmed that, in accordance with section 9.14 of the Amended Guidance to the Licensing Act, discussions with Planning Services had confirmed that a related planning application was currently under consideration.
The matter had been put to the Licensing Hearing Panel as the Council had received representations from Members of the Public, Environmental Health and Hartlip Residents’ Action Group. Objections raised were relevant and related to all four of the licensing objectives.
The following documents were included in the agenda pack:
Appendix A pages 55 – 69 – Application for a new Premises Licence
Appendix B pages 71 – 82 – Amended application
Appendix C pages 83 – Location Plan
Appendix D pages 85 – 103 – Representations received in relation to the application
Appendix E pages 105 – Agreement with Kent Police
The Chairman invited the applicant to present the application for a new premises licence. Mr Jewell said that he had applied for a premises licence at Rainham Boot Fair to build upon successful events held at the site during 2020, including Rainham Boot Fair, open air theatre productions and a drive-in cinema, all of which provided social and leisure opportunities for the local community. Mr Jewell was looking to make such events a permanent fixture by gaining a premises licence. Another key reason for the application was due to the impact of Covid-19 and the impact that it had had on the hospitality industry as well as on mental health and wellbeing. The application would help support the hospitality sector and provide the public with new ways to enjoy the outdoors where there was less risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Mr Jewell said that the use of outdoor spaces had been strongly supported by the Government. This was evidenced by new laws introduced during 2020 which gave landowners greater freedom with regards to use of their land. The time limit for existing temporary use of land had doubled from 14 days to 28 days for holding a market or motor car or motorcycle racing and from 28 days to 56 days for any purpose. These changes made it easier to host markets, stalls, marquees, car boot sales and fairs without need for planning permission. The legislation had been due to expire on 31 December 2020 but had been extended to 31 December 2021.
Mr Jewell advised that in September 2020, the South Bush Lane site had been used for a Covid friendly drive-in cinema, operated by Nightflix, to support the local area. This had been a success and it was recognised that the site would be suitable for further events in 2021. Due to there being a limit on the number of Temporary Event Notices (TEN) that could be applied for in relation to a single site, the site could not continue to host a drive in cinema without a premises licence being granted. It was also anticipated that wedding receptions would be hosted on the site.
A number of representations had been received in respect of the proposals. These related to traffic, noise and light concerns. Mr Jewell had responded to concerns raised and was satisfied that a solution could be found that would be agreeable to all parties and it was important that future events were supported by local residents. Mr Jewell felt that the benefits to the local economy outweighed the concerns raised. Mr Jewell had responded to all the objectors directly, prior to the hearing, in order to suggest how their concerns could be mitigated but had only received a response from two. Mr Jewell and Mr Stonehouse had also attempted to mitigate the concerns raised by Medway’s Environmental Protection department. It was considered that the concerns raised could be mitigated through appropriate conditions, two of which had been proposed. Mr Jewell stated that one option available to the Panel would be to grant the licence with conditions, to enable a Christmas drive in cinema to take place. This could enable Council representatives to attend to assess the impact on the surrounding area. It was therefore requested that the Panel grant a premises licence, subject to appropriate conditions.
Speaking in support of the application, Mr Stonehouse said that other drive in cinemas operated by Nightflix had resulted in minimal impact to neighbours. In eight years of operation, he was not aware of any noise or light related complaints having been received. Several of these locations were in fields that required access via narrow roads. In these cases, one-way systems were implemented to mitigate the impact of traffic attending the event. Mr Stonehouse wanted to agree a solution that suited everyone and said that the jobs that a drive-in cinema in Rainham would create would benefit the local economy.
The Chairman invited Mr Prodger to ask questions of the applicant, Mr Jewell and his representative, Mr Stonehouse. These questions were responded to as follows:
· The site could currently accommodate up to 499 people, with the drive-in cinema capacity being around 200 vehicles per screening. It was considered that the site had potential for a maximum of 3,000 people and associated vehicles, depending on the events, with a maximum of 1,500 vehicles.
· The maximum, so-called worst case scenario for the maximum number of days the site would operate would be around seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, subject to a separate planning application. It was anticipated that up to two weddings a month could take place, although the viability of these had not yet been assessed.
· The entrance gate to the site was 20 feet wide. This was the only entrance / exit that would be used. At previous events it had not been possible for vehicles to arrive and leave simultaneously but it was considered that traffic concerns could be mitigated by widening the entrance. This would allow vehicles to arrive and leave the site at the same time. Clearance of 100 vehicles from the site had previously taken four minutes. There had not been any backlog of traffic previously but should this occur it could be mitigated through signage or other suggested mitigations.
· In order to mitigate noise pollution, visitors to the site were advised to respect the local community and surrounding area and encouraged not to create unnecessary noise. No data was currently available to demonstrate noise or light pollution impacts of events at the site but it was anticipated that a Christmas cinema event could be used to collect this data. These issues had not been raised as concerns in relation to other sites operated by Nightflix.
· Events taking place at the site could be sited at the point furthest away from residential properties to minimise the impact. For the September cinema event, the screen had been positioned so light pollution would not impact on neighbouring properties. No noise complaints had been submitted to Medway Council in relation to the September 2020 event and steps had been taken to reduce light pollution. This had included positioning the main LED screen facing away from properties.
· Actions had been taken to block usual passing points on South Bush Lane during previous events in order that evidence could be gathered of resulting congestion. This had included metal chains and bins being used to block passing points. Mr Jewell said that traffic concerns could have been mitigated if he had been made aware of the concerns. There were marshalson site for all events who could be deployed as required to address any issues as they occurred.
· 150 to 200 sellers were expected to attend each boot fair with a total of 500 to 800 visitors. Anyone wishing to bring a large vehicle to an event was required to contact the organisers in advance so that this could be assessed.
· Three catering vehicles were on site at boot fair events including an ice cream, burger and coffee van. The Boot Fair opened at 6am for sellers and 7am for buyers with caterers being able to arrive from 5:30am. For recent boot fairs a staff member had been on the gate from 5am to ensure that vehicles did not arrive early and cause an obstruction.
· Boot fair events closed at 12pm with all litter and vehicles leaving the site by 1pm. It was anticipated that during 2021, boot fairs would take place every Sunday from April / May onwards. It was expected that around 20 would take place in total and there may also be events at Christmas time. There was no mains power on site with generators used at the site currently being sufficient.
· The previous cinema event had been located close to a hedge line to prevent noise from entering nearby properties. Noise emitted by generators and from the site as a whole was monitored by marshals with action taken where required. Mr Jewell advised that he lived next to the site and had not been able to hear any noise from his property. It was suggested that the Panel could mitigate noise concerns by conditioning specific noise limits.
· It was anticipated that the drive-in cinema would be a semi-permanent fixture. The site had previously been used as a pop-up venue but it was expected that events would take place weekly in the future with a maximum of 200 vehicles attending each event.
· Signage was displayed at the event to advise customers to limit noise during events. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, customers were currently only permitted to leave their car to use the toilet. Food and drink ordered via an app, would be delivered directly to cars.
· The audio for films screened was transmitted into cars via the in-car stereo with there being a standard for how much sound insulation a vehicle required. A car would typically stay warm enough during a film screening without the engine needing to be turned on. Nightflix had never experienced problems due to noise being emitted from cars at previous events. If licensing conditions specified that engines could not be switched on at all then this would be adhered to and enforced as appropriate.
· Nightflix had an Event Management Plan in place for each event that all staff were fully aware of. Rules for each event could be specified on tickets. Should it be required, a plan could be submitted to the Council prior to each event taking place.
· Traffic management required for night cinema events would be similar to daytime events although it would be more important for noise to be kept to a minimum. Onscreen messaging was used to encourage compliance and customers not doing so would be asked to leave.
· No lighting consultant had yet been engaged. This could be accommodated should it be required by the Panel. Any issues identified would be mitigated. Conditions that had been proposed to Environmental Protection included checking the visibility of lights at neighbouring properties. Checks could be undertaken by events staff and records kept as required. Measures would be taken to ensure the lighting was not intrusive and it was considered that the licensing conditions proposed would be robust enough to prevent there being problems.
· A wedding reception held at the site in 2017 had been attended by approximately 200 people. This had been manageable with the event having taken place on the west side of the site, the area used as the car park for boot fairs. It was anticipated that alcohol would be available at future wedding events, subject to the outcome of a future licensing application.
· The use of marquees with doors could be considered for future events in order to mitigate noise. The marquee used for the 2017 wedding had been UPVC with its noise rating being unknown. The marquee to be used would be hired from an external company and it was therefore anticipated that they would have experience of providing a product to meet local requirements. The amount of sound being emitted from the marquee had been tested ahead of the previous event. This test had found that noise from the marquee was not audible once the windows and doors had been closed.
· Mr Jewell had spoken to an acoustic consultant and was waiting to have further contact from him. No work had been commissioned to date and noise sources had not been discussed with the consultant.
· Nightflix had previously used a separate acoustic consultant and it was anticipated that assessment would be undertaken once the premises licence had been granted. These consultants had not recommended the addition of specific conditions in relation to the licence application but were satisfied for the Panel to recommend suitable conditions.
· Mr Jewell and Mr Stonehouse had submitted their own recommendations to mitigate noise at the site. These were based on research undertaken relating to other areas and had been adapted to make them site specific. It was proposed that a Christmas drive in cinema event could be used to model impacts and appropriate mitigations. It was noted that Medway’s Environmental Protection service had requested the provision of an acoustic assessment and lighting assessment.
The Chairman next invited Mr Page to ask questions of Mr Jewell and Mr Stonehouse. These questions were responded to as follows:
· Mr Stonehouse had been named as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) within the premises licence application. This part of the application had subsequently been withdrawn but it was anticipated that he would be the DPS should a licence be subsequently applied for and granted to serve alcohol. For wedding events, it was more likely that a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) would be applied for in addition to the premises licence.
· Mr Stonehouse had eight years’ experience of managing events such as mobile bars, catering units and outdoor events. He had attended the night cinema event in September 2020 to ensure it was set up in accordance with the TEN granted for the event. Mr Stonehouse was the DPS for six other venues. He confirmed that he was based in North Yorkshire and that Nightflix was based in London. The firm had grown during 2020 and now employed over 70 people. It was anticipated that local recruitment would take place to enable the provision of drive-in cinema events in Rainham.
· Many of the other sites operated by Nightflix were located in industrial and commercial areas but it also operated pop-up locations in more rural areas. 134 events had been due to take place during 2020 but many of these had been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. It was anticipated that the Rainham site would operate for a total of 90 days in 2021 across all activities, subject to licensing and planning permissions. No complaints had been received in relation to noise following the September 2020 event although there had been one complaint in relation to the position of the screen.
· Nightflix included a carbon offset fee within its ticket price with trees being planted using these funds. It was acknowledged that events at the Rainham site would need to operate around agricultural usage.
· In relation to a question that suggested that there was no public support for the proposed uses of the Rainham site, Mr Jewell said that he did not require support from the wider community and reiterated that the Government had enabled the increased use of such sites without planning permission being required.
The legal advisor confirmed that there were no comments of support for the proposals available to the Panel and that it could be accepted that there were none. In response to a request from Mr Page, the legal advisor also stated that he would not be able to speak on behalf of persons who were not present at the meeting.
In response to further questions from Mr Page, Mr Jewell said that there were two official passing points on South Bush Lane and that private driveways were also normally used to enable vehicles to pass. Event marshals observed traffic conditions and were able to report issues, although it was not their role to direct traffic on the highway or prevent access to South Bush Lane. Mr Jewell further advised that the site was large and while a significant area would be used for events, the remainder of it would be available for agricultural use.
Mr Wood was then invited to ask questions to the applicant. Mr Wood disputed any claim that his property would not be affected by events held at the site and asked how issues relating to the number of people attending events, noise and light pollution would be mitigated. In particular, Mr Wood was concerned that headlights of cars entering and exiting the site shone into his property and that traffic entering and leaving the site travelled close to his property boundary. Mr Wood questioned why only one of two entrances to the site was used.
Mr Jewell said that he had not previously been made aware of concerns relating to vehicle headlights and advised that the location of the cinema could be moved around the site. It was anticipated that the issue of headlights shining into Mr Wood’s property could be resolved through traffic approaching the exit gate at a different angle. The entrance gate had existed for a number of years but it was acknowledged that it had not previously been used as much as currently. Using the other gate would result in other residents being impacted. It was noted that boot fair locations were chosen so that they were as far as possible from neighbouring properties. Mr Jewell advised that he had met Mr Wood several times and had attempted to mitigate concerns previously raised. Mr Wood felt that some of his concerns had not been addressed and said that he would be disturbed early in the morning and late into the evening.
In response to a question from Mr Reid about how the amount of alcohol being brought onto the site for events could be controlled, Mr Jewell said that risk assessments would be undertaken and common sense applied. Should an issue be identified then event staff would be asked to monitor the situation and additional measures could be considered. Mr Jewell was keen to ensure that events at the site did not lead to anti-social behaviour.
The Chairman then invited Mr and Mrs Lucas to question the applicants. They stated that Mr Jewell had told them that they should stay in their property with doors and windows closed during events to ensure that they were not adversely affected. They also said that Mr Jewell had put cones across his own drive and that the number of events taking place at the site had necessitated residents blocking their own drives to prevent people attending events parking on them. It was questioned whether any wedding ceremonies were planned for the site or whether only receptions would be held. Mr and Mrs Lucas said that the cinema screen had caused light pollution at the previous event as the top of the screen was above the height of the adjacent hedge. They also said that cars facing the screen had headlights on which shone into their property and their privacy was being compromised as a result.
In response, Mr and Mrs Lucas were advised that wedding ceremonies were unlikely to take place at the site. It was acknowledged that householders were entitled to block their drives but that this could cause traffic problems due to a reduction in passing places. The rear of the cinema screen contained small LEDs and therefore light emitted would be minimal and there was also a hedgerow between the screen and houses. Car headlights were covered up during cinema events and Mr Jewell did not consider that those attending events would be able to see into properties.
In response to questions from the Panel in relation to car engine idling and battery capacity and cinema goers bringing alcohol onto the site, Mr Jewell said that the battery use of car radios was minimal and it would therefore be unnecessary for engines to run during film screenings. Messages would be displayed to advise people to turn off engines and if they did not comply with this rule they would be asked to leave the event. Event tickets would specify event conditions with all tickets being checked after cars had been admitted to the site. The consumption of alcohol was discouraged at drive in cinema events. While it was not possible to prevent alcohol being brought to events in cars, any resulting consequences could be mitigated.
The Chairman invited Mr Prodger to state the Environmental Health representation against the application. Mr Prodger said that the objection was based upon there being a lack of data available to ensure that the proposed conditions to be placed on the licence were robust enough. The applicant had not shown that the conditions proposed would meet the Council’s licensing objectives. It was considered that the proposed use was likely to give rise to noise from patrons, including late into the evening. Noise and light emitted from the site could cause a nuisance for neighbouring residents.
The site was in a fairly rural area, therefore any noise or light generated by such activities could be intrusive to residents. There had been some complaints raised regarding noise and lighting from previously held events at the site over the last few months. While these complaints were currently unsubstantiated, they did add weight to concerns that increases in the volume of events would have a detrimental effect on local amenity. Information provided on how noise from regulated entertainment sound would be mitigated was not considered to be adequate. The applicant would need to submit an acoustic report to demonstrate the suitability and adequacy of the premises for the events proposed at the site. This would need to include an appraisal of the existing acoustic environment and predicted effect of holding events, including measured and predicted noise levels. It would also need to include a scheme of works and any other measures necessary to control noise levels.
Conditions that had been proposed by the applicant in relation to prevention of public nuisance had not been tailored to a specific events plan for the site. Where the use of a structure was proposed as part of an event, details of this should be included in the proposed licensing conditions.
The proposed conditions had stated that staff would control the volume of regulated entertainment but had not provided evidence of acceptable volume levels, how this would be controlled or how it would be determined if noise emitting from an event was causing a nuisance. The inclusion of accurate evidence to demonstrate that the proposed licensing conditions would be met was required as part of the application. Without this evidence, it could not be determined whether any conditions imposed on the licence were proportionate, justifiable, or capable of being met.
Mr Page then outlined his objection to the application. He said that no independent evidence had been provided to demonstrate that the site was suitable for the proposed event and that minimal steps had been taken to mitigate the impact of events. The applicant had mentioned undertaking monitoring but had not provided details of how this would be undertaken. Items associated with events had been left at the site, which suggested that there was no real intention of maintaining agricultural use. Mr Page considered that the only suitable mitigation would be relocating the proposed events to another venue.
Outlining his objection to the application, Mr Nicholson said that the granting of a premises licence would make existing issues in South Bush Lane significantly worse. He had moved to the area to enjoy the quiet rural setting and to date, every event held at the venue had impacted his day-to-day life. Mr Nicholson also stated that items associated with events remained at the venue throughout the year. Due to increased traffic when events were taking place, he considered that it was not safe to walk dogs or cycle in South Bush Lane. Due to the traffic generated it was also necessary to take an alternative route when leaving his house by car during an event.
Mr Nicholson questioned whether it was fair that his life was being interrupted by events taking place. He referenced a farm that held events that was 1.4km away, music from which could be heard in South Bush Lane. Mr Nicholson concluded that his rights to quiet enjoyment of his property were being infringed by increased traffic and noise pollution and felt that the proposed events at the premises were unacceptable.
In objecting to the application, Mr Reid said that it was not possible for enough mitigation to be put in place at the venue to prevent sound from travelling to neighbouring properties. He was also concerned by the aggressiveness of some motorists attending events at the site and for pedestrian safety.
Mr Wood objected to the application as he did not consider that the proposal sufficiently addressed the prevention of crime and disorder licensing objective. This was due to the applicant adopting a reactive rather than a preventative approach. There were riding schools in South Bush Lane and Mr Wood was concerned about the impact of events on horse riders. He was also concerned in relation to the licensing objective of the prevention of children from harm as the proposal to show 18 certificate films at the site could result in children on the footpath adjacent to the site viewing inappropriate material.
In response to the objections raised, Mr Jewell said that the site had been cleared two weeks previously of materials relating to boot fairs. Cones remained on site but there was no disturbance to use of any access points to the field. The cones were in place to highlight entrance and exit points for a possible event taking place at Christmas. Mr Jewell wanted South Bush Lane to be available for all road users but said it was difficult to mitigate against the behaviour of individuals away from his site. However, appropriate messages and warnings could be displayed to ask patrons to respect the local area. He considered that South Bush Lane was wide enough for pedestrians and other road users to pass.
In response to a suggestion from Mr Jewell that the objectors to the application present propose conditions for inclusion on any licence granted, the legal advisor said that this would not be possible as determining what conditions it might be appropriate to include on the licence would be a matter for the Panel to determine.
In response to a question from Mr Jewell about how noise emitted from other local events was relevant to the application, Mr Nicholson said that it was relevant because Mr Jewell’s events would include amplified and non-amplified music at much closer proximity to his property than the other venue previously mentioned. Mr Nicholson was concerned that approval of the application would give permission for events to take place that operated for long hours. Mr Nicholson considered that the proposals to hold more events at the venue were unacceptable and not in the interests of people in the surrounding area.
At this point, the Chairman invited all parties to sum up their respective cases:
Mr Jewell said that the licence should be granted. He acknowledged the representations submitted but considered that conditions could be placed on the licence to effectively mitigate these issues to protect the local area and promote the four licensing objectives. With regards to protection of children from harm, this was important, and any further conditions agreed by the Panel would be welcome in this respect. Mr Jewell said that he welcomed people raising their concerns directly with him and that he wanted a dialogue with his neighbours in order to develop a plan that would satisfy all parties.
Mr Prodger said that the applicant has not produced burden of proof that any of the proposed conditions applied to the application for the prevention of public nuisance would be met. The objections raised in relation to the application raised concern that objectives already in place were not being met.
Mr Page said that members of the Residents’ Action Group and most of his neighbours agreed that the relocation of the proposed events was the only suitable option. South Bush Lane was narrow and he would challenge the view that it was wide enough for cars to pass. Although the road could cope with usual traffic volumes, there were negative impacts on event days due to its width. Mr Wood considered that the site was unsuitable for events and should retain an agricultural status in the future.
Mr Stonehouse said that children passing the site would not be able to see films from the road. There was a walkway through the field and while audio would not be heard, the screen position could be set to mitigate the concerns raised. Mr Stonehouse reiterated that the night cinema proposals would create jobs in the local area and said that granting the licence with conditions would be the most appropriate way in which events held could be regulated. An alternative would be to apply for further Temporary Event Notices, which could also be used to host other events at the site. This could include an outdoor cinema with seating and speakers. Alternatively, the granting of a licence with relevant conditions would provide a level of control over what events could take place at the site.
1. The Panel considered all the written evidence before it and had listened carefully to all the oral evidence presented by the applicant and his representative and by the objectors, including the Medway Environmental Protection Officer, Hartlip Residents’ Action Group and local residents and unanimously decided to refuse the application for a premises licence for Rainham Boot Fair, South Bush Lane, Rainham, Kent ME8 8PS.
2. The Panel refused the application as it determined that the applicant had provided insufficient information to enable the Panel to determine whether the proposals would comply with Medway’s licensing objectives or whether the conditions proposed by the applicant were likely to lead to the objectives being complied with.
3. The Panel noted that the applicant could chose to resubmit his application, including the additional information requested, and that in the event of relevant representations being received, the application would then be determined by a further meeting of the Licensing Hearing Panel.