Popular rural wedding venue must close, says council

Halstead House
Halstead House

A popular rural wedding venue in the Harborough district must close down, council planners have ruled.

Halstead House, near Tilton on the Hill, north of Market Harborough, has been staging weddings for years - and this year had 51 planned.

Their website is full of praise from happy couples who call the rural farm setting “the perfect place” to get married. The venue employs four full time and 31 part-time staff, and is a thriving local business.

But in all those years, as the successful business grew, it never had planning permission, a meeting of Harborough District Council’s planning committee heard this week.

And at Tuesday night’s meeting, councillors were unanimous in refusing permission for Halstead House to be used for weddings.

They decided that the business caused significant noise and disturbance to local people and led to too much traffic on a narrow access road.

Councillors were told by council officers: “The harm identified is not outweighed by the economic and social benefits.”

Local villagers said Halstead House wedding had made their lives a misery.

“We were horrified to find that the venue was operating without planning permission” villager Miriam Stoate told Tuesday night’s meeting.

And local district councillor Michael Rook said: “We have to protect the lives and environment of our 
residents.”

But the venue also had support from local residents, past and present employees and 10 local businesses.

Employee Janette Labram said the venue had provided jobs for local people and work for local businesses for years.

A spokesman for the venue said: “We are disappointed with the decision of the Council, particularly because of the efforts we have gone to to mitigate the impact of the weddings on our neighbours.”

It is understood it will take time for the planning refusal to come into force - particularly if the venue appeals.