TROTTON with Chithurst Parish Council has issued a statement following a protest by residents outside the newly opened Southdowns Manor wedding venue.
The demonstration was timed to take place on the day the wedding venue held its grand launch.
But this week parish councillors said they were pleased the former hotel had been refurbished to a high standard and would offer the opportunity for local employment.
However, they added they still had concerns about the permitted hours of use.
“The parish council was approached by a group of residents concerned at the proposed new licensing hours for the premises.
“Following a hearing of the licensing committee of Chichester District Council, a reduction in the permitted hours applied for, was made.
“However, the permitted hours granted by the licensing committee are still 1.30am on Friday and Saturday nights, with midnight on all other nights.
“The parish council remains of the opinion that 1.30am is too late for this very quiet and rural area within the South Downs National Park, and will continue to press for a reduction.”
Parish councillors said the action group had concerns about the potential for late night noise and increased traffic.
“A number of local residents, and the parish council raised objections to the original license application.
“At that time, the proposed use was for purely a wedding and events venue with no separate hotel use.
“This would have required a planning application for a change of use.
“However, since the original licensing application, is purely for a stand-alone wedding venue, the owners, have decided to continue with a limited hotel provision in addition to the wedding and conference trade.”
The parish council said it had been assured the premises would operate in line with the previous business.
But the action group continued to believe there had been (or would be) a change of use requiring planning permission, although the enforcement officer confirmed this was not the case.
“Until such time as either a breach of planning regulations is confirmed, or the operation of the business gives rise to problems which cannot be resolved by negotiation with the owners, the parish council feel that no useful purpose is being served by further ‘action’ by local residents,” said the statement.
In the meantime, the parish council was willing to continue acting as a ‘conduit’ for problems raised by the operation of the Southdowns Manor, and to negotiate with the owners.
“However, the council does not feel that the interests of local residents are served by continuing a campaign against what at present is a legitimate business acting within both the licensing and planning laws,” the statement said.