VILLAGERS were demanding answers this week after it was revealed that for the last four years major events have been staged at Groombridge Place without planning permission.
The venue’s authorisation expired in 2013, despite hosting a litany of well-attended events since then including festivals such as Joy and Extreme.
Investigation The oversight came to light after Groombridge Place withdrew an application to extend their licensed hours to stay open and sell alcohol until 3am at the weekend.
Permission for the grounds to be open to the public was first granted in 1992. They were authorised to hold events in 2007 but this was on a temporary basis, which ended in 2013. A borough council spokesperson confirmed that they were ‘not aware it had
expired’, until they received a complaint last month after which they ‘commenced an investigation’.
Operating without planning permission is not a criminal offence so there will be no punitive action. Although if Groombridge Place fail to submit a retrospective planning application for the previous events they could receive a formal Enforcement Notice. Failure to comply with is a criminal offence.
Groombridge resident Julia Stitt said: “It seems grossly inefficient on the part of the Borough Council’s planning department to allow Groombridge Place to hold late night events that disturb the peace of some people in the village and permits overnight camping adjacent to residents’ homes, all with no planning permission.
“Surely there must have been an events manager at the estate whose job it was to ensure all correct processes were adhered to?”
The Times contacted the venue but were told that owner Justin Bodle was away and unavailable for comment.