DRUNKEN CYCLISTS, “rat infestation” and people peeing on neighbouring properties were just some of the objections against an alcohol licence being granted to a farm café – but increased noise levels were the top concern.

The fate of an application to sell alcohol to customers of The Barn at Turville Heath Farm, Henley-on-Thames, hangs in the balance as members of a Licencing Sub-Committee, for Buckinghamshire Council retired after hearing cases for and against, on Thursday, August 13.

Robin Harman, the applicant, heard from licencing officer Brian Whittal some 18 objections received during a 28-day consultation period to his request to be able sell “local beers and ciders” to the public.

As part of the application, Mr Harman requests business hours for on and off-site sales to be between 10am–8.15pm, daily.

Current café opening hours are restricted to between 10am-4pm.

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But objections against the application piled up ranging from health and safety concerns, to doubts about Mr Harman’s ability to run an alcohol licenced premises.

There were also fears about cyclists who get drunk at The Barn being a danger to themselves and the public.

But increased noise by turning The Barn into a “pub” scored highest among the opposition.

Other objections included:

  • Public gathering on Turville Heath to drink
  • Noise emanating from the “open structure” of The Barn
  • Neighbour security and possible theft
  • Increase in vermin
  • Despoilment of surrounding “tranquillity”
  • Redirecting trade from local pubs
  • Inadequate toilet provision
  • All-day drinking detrimental to the “peace and quiet” of the area
  • Antisocial behaviour

One contributor argued it was “inappropriate” to introduce a drinks licence to a “lovely, peaceful area”.

No formal objections however were raised from the police, Fire Service, or Environmental Health.

Bucks Free Press:

The Barn received in 2018 planning approval to retrospectively change the use of the working farm from merely agricultural, to mixed agricultural and a café creating a “pop-up café or mobile BBQ tent”.

The site, which is five miles west of High Wycombe and within a 100-metre radius of five neighbouring homes, is predominantly agricultural, situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and currently serves 150 covers per day with food produced by the farm itself.

Mr Harman’s application carries amendments to serve alcohol until 3.30pm during the months of November, December, January, February and March; until 5.30pm in April, September and October; and until 7.30pm in May, June, July, and August.

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Opponents to the idea who have resided in the area for many years had “not envisaged living in close proximity to an alcohol licenced premises” and licencing officer Brian Whittal cited a “great number” of concerns raised about the hours requested.

A representative for Mr Harman assured the committee there is “no intention” to turn The Barn into a pub.

They argued the venue would be mainly for passing walkers and cyclists, and families.

To control numbers during Covid, Mr Harman introduced a diary booking system and an eight-person limit every 15 minutes – a policy he intends to keep up and which was made an additional condition as part of his application.

He said he has also installed an “extra-high fence” with vegetation on a boundary wall to mitigate sound levels – and would offer as an additional condition to insist customers purchase food to consume alcohol.

Mr Harman said to merely serve alcohol is “not the objective at all”.

On the matter of Mr Harman’s ability to run an alcohol licenced premises, it was noted he has prior personal experience in the licencing trade and is a personal licence holder.

At close of business, chairman Carl Jackson retired the sub-committee to consider Mr Harman’s case for a licence, as well as mandatory and non-mandatory conditions, which will be determined at a later date.