‘Medieval festivals’ with jousting knights in shining armour, battle re-enactments, minstrels, jesters and a ‘Medieval Babes’ choir, can go ahead on a countryside location in the Chichester district, councillors have decided.
But a meeting of the district’s Licensing and Gambling Acts Sub-committee heard there was opposition from many local residents, and Loxwood Parish Council, to the use of the Loxwood Meadow, at Roundstreet Common, Loxwood.
Concerns were expressed about the impact on a quiet countryside location, traffic issues, public nuisance caused by people attending the events, noise disturbance and disruption.
Following a lengthy hearing, the sub-committee announced it had agreed to grant a premises licence for events on a maximum of three weekends a year – with a maximum of three days per weekend – between May 1 and September 30.
The licence covers activities including the sale of alcohol, performance of plays, live music and dancing.
Councillors heard that police had agreed ‘suitable conditions’ to be attached to the licence if it was granted, including a stipulation that no more than 4,999 people, including staff, performers and volunteers, should be in the event area at any one time.
The application was made by Bacon Empire Publishing Ltd, which owns the meadow.
Managing director Maurice Bacon said he had previously successfully put on medieval festivals at Berkeley Castle, in Gloucestershire, for five years.
Unfortunately there was a severe flood there in 2007, and the event was cancelled. After this, they were not able to obtain insurance.
Sarah Lefevre, counsel for Mr Bacon, said this would be a family friendly, family orientated fun festival, to be operated by an applicant with really significant experience at Berkeley Castle.
Mr Bacon told the sub-committee it would be a family day out. Apart from battle re-enactment and jousting, attractions would feature lots of people in medieval costume, including wandering minstrels, jesters, a leper, and an executioner.
“The medieval music will not be loud - this is not a rock festival, or anything like that,” he added.
Solicitor Philip Day, representing the majority of local objectors, said there was nothing in the application that would limit the use of the land to a medieval joust, if the licence was granted.
“They could hold a rock concert here for 5,000 people, because that would be permitted under the terms of the licence as requested,” he declared.
Mr Day also expressed concern about lack of noise controls over weapons including cannons and muskets used during re-enactments. “Are people with horses expected to pitch camp to move their animals miles away to avoid them being spooked?” he demanded.
Mr Day told the sub-committee: “This is the wrong place for an event involving 5,000 people, alcohol and regulated entertainment. The application was a mess from start to finish.”