Application to vary a premise licence under the Licensing Act 2003 for Hush Heath Winery, Hush Heath Estate, Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst, Kent , TN12 0HX
- Meeting of Licensing Act 2003 Sub Committee, Thursday 28th March, 2019 10.00 am (Item 12.)
- View the background to item 12.
The Chairman requested that all those participating in the hearing identified themselves as follows:-
Councillor Mrs Wendy Hinder – Chairman
Councillor Mrs Denise Joy – Sub-Committee Member
Councillor Mrs Val Springett – Sub-Committee Member
Mrs Jayne Bolas – Legal Officer
Mrs Caroline Matthews – Democratic Services Officer
For the Applicant:
Mr Richard Balfour-Lynn – Owner of Hush Heath Winery
Mrs Leslie Balfour-Lynn – Owner of Hush Heath Winery
Mrs Sarah Easton – Manager of Hush Heath Winery
Witnesses to be called by the Applicant:
Mr David Curtis-Brignall – Deputy Chief Executive, Visit Kent
Councillor John Perry – Staplehurst Ward Councillor
Councillor Louise Brice – Staplehurst Ward Councillor
Councillor Malcolm Greer
Mr Philip Kolvin QC – Acting on behalf of Amanda and Bernard Tipples, Kim and Sally Humphrey, Angus Codd and Andrea Hodgkiss, Polly Hardwick, Frank and Anne Tipples, Paul and Doreen Stanley, Alison Clark, Richard and Natasha Davidson-Houston, David Taylor, Nicola Feakin and Marcus Rennick
Witness to be called – Mrs Natasha Davidson-Houston
Mr Robin Harris – Legal Advisor (observing)
Mr Mike Nash – Democratic Services Officer (observing for training purposes)
The Chairman asked all parties
to confirm that they were aware of the hearing procedure and that
each had a copy of the procedure document.
The Sub-Committee Members confirmed that they had pre-read all the agenda papers and any other documents regarding the hearing. Save that Councillor Mrs Springett, due to other commitments had skim read items such as the noise report and noted duplicated items but felt she had a good overall understanding of the issues involved.
The Chairman enquired whether draft conditions had been agreed between the applicant and any of the other parties for the Sub-Committee to consider.
Mr Philip Kolvin QC addressed the Sub-Committee. He advised that he had put forward some proposed conditions to the Applicant on behalf of the objectors and the Applicant had agreed to some of the conditions.
In response, the Applicant, Mr Balfour-Lynn, advised that he had agreed to some of the conditions which related to the licence, however some of the conditions related to planning conditions which were not pertinent to the licence.
The Chairman enquired whether any parties would be requesting any witnesses to give evidence at the hearing.
Mr Kolvin advised that he would be calling Natasha Davidson-Houston as a witness and would be the spokesperson for the objectors.
Mr Balfour-Lynn stated that he
would be calling Mr David Curtis-Brignall, Deputy Chief Executive of Visit Kent,
Councillor Malcolm Greer, Councillors John Perry and Louise Brice
who were Staplehurst Ward Members,
Sarah Easton, the General Manager of the Winery and his wife,
Mr Balfour-Lynn confirmed that he would be the spokesperson for the applicant.
The Legal Advisor was asked to outline the application for a variation of the premises licence on behalf of Hush Heath Winery which was as follows:-
Removal of the condition
”the supply of alcohol on the premises will be limited
to tasting samples only” from Annex 3 of the licence to
enable supply by the glass at the premises.
The application also sought for a condition at Annex
4 to be amended to read “supply of alcohol (by way of
on-sales) will be permitted on all other occasions Monday to Sunday
inclusive between the hours of 10.00 and 19.00 (this does not
affect the 12 events allowed or off-sales under the current
licence). (Consequently the premises
will continue to be licensed until 12 midnight for off-sales which
is required for online orders that are processed) and for a maximum
of 12 events per year). The remainder
of Annex 4 would continue.
Mrs Bolas confirmed that there had been no Responsible Authority representations, four representations in support of the application and 21 representations objecting to the licence application.
She summarised main issues raised by supporters and objectors.
also advised that additional submissions had been circulated to the
Sub-Committee. However, some of the detail in all representations
related to Planning matters which was
not ordinarily for the Licensing Sub-Committee to deal with. It was
recognised, however, that some considerations may overlap but
guidance stated that the two regimes are separate and not bound by
each other’s decisions. Mrs Bolas added that a licensing
condition did not override a planning condition. In the event of
any breaches of planning conditions occurring this would be dealt
with by planning enforcement.
The focus of the hearing was to consider licensable activities as impacted by the variation to the premises licence applied for and the effect on licensing objectives being promoted. The planning system addresses land use and licensing considers practical operation and regulation of the premises.
Reference was then made to the conditions proposed and responses
in relation to Condition 1, Mr Balfour-Lynn had requested that the
time for on sales at the premises would be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday
to Sunday, with 7 p.m. being the exception rather than the rule
that was also accepted for off sales but not online.
The hours would not apply to the 12 special events.
The objector’s proposed restriction on hot food being served was not accepted it was stated there would be limited times that hot food would be required. The majority of times there would only be cold platters served, this would only be if an event especially requested hot food.
accepted that sale by the glass would be ancillary to the winery
use, linked to tours and tastings and Hush Heath
Conditions 4-8 are mainly on the current licence.
Condition 9 – The applicant would be prepared to meet all
the residents living within 1 mile of the Winery once per annum in
the spirit of co-operation and neighbourly relations.
Condition 10a – This was agreed subject to it being
changed to “shall be restricted to products produced by Hush
Heath Winery and shall not include spirits”. This was due to the fact that Hush Heath
do not bottle their cider and saffron
beer on site but the products are created by their winemakers and
sold under the Hush Heath brand.
Condition 10b – Agreed but subject to the 12 events
already allowed under the existing Premises Licence.
Condition 10c – This was
stated to be a planning matter, not a licensing issue.
Condition 11 – This was agreed but would be subject to the core hours reflecting 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. which would allow increased flexibility in the operation of the Winery.
Condition 12 and 13 – linked to 1.
Condition 14 – on the current license
save for i) and j).
The Applicant, Mr Balfour-Lynn in providing his opening remarks advised that:-
The Winery closes at 5 p.m. in the winter and 6 p.m. in the summer. The activities during the day consisted of tours, tastings, educational lectures, selling wine for off sales and in the evening web sales. The reasoning for extending the opening to 7 p.m. for on sales including glasses of wine was to give flexibility for the operation and to give clarity to residents that the Winery was not open in the evenings past 7 p.m.
Mr Balfour-Lynn further commented that:-
The Winery opened in
2002 and he and his family lived on the estate and were the nearest
neighbours to the Winery.
Their home was nearest
to the winery so they are sensitive to noise and he and his wife
respected the concerns of the local residents and tried very hard
to put in measures to limit the amount of noise.
He was concerned that
local residents believed that the variation to the licence would
mean that the Winery would become a public house. He emphasised that he owned many public houses in
the locality and had no desire to turn the Winery into a public
He simply wanted to be
able to sell a glass of wine to visitors already there as part of
the experience. He stressed that other
wineries he knew in Kent sold their visitors a glass of wine after
a visit. It was, as far as he was
concerned, ancillary to the winery business.
The Winery did not sell
beer or spirits generally, just Hush Heath made
The Winery was not a
general event space, only private and corporate events linked to
wine. He had held his daughter’s
wedding on site but that was a one off and he had written to local
residents before the event to notify them. He had no desire to hold other weddings on the
estate as a commercial business.
The Winery was open
every day except Christmas Day and employed 25 people, all of whom
There had been an increased interest in English
wine, visitors came from the UK and overseas to taste the
wine. The wine is sold all over the
world and Hush Heath had formed partnerships with a lot of the main
supermarkets. Visitors could come and
enjoy the estate, with its wild flowers, wild animals and
conservation ideals. People could walk
through the estate and the woodlands without paying. Enthusiasts Wine Club had also recently been
formed. The Winery had recently been
awarded a gold award for visitor attractions from Visit
The Winery took public safety very seriously and
their customer base was of mature sensible people who enjoyed wine
and they try to balance their business with the concerns of the
local residents. Most local residents
were supportive, despite the 21 objections.
A letter was written to Mrs Tipples ahead of the
variation application to enable her to share it with local
residents. He was therefore
disappointed to see, in his opinion,
that his intentions were being mis-represented and a letter had been written to
the planning department stating that the Winery was breaching its
Complaints had been made to the Council’s
Environmental Health department about water pollution which he
stated were unfounded.
No Responsible Authorities had objected to this
In the week leading up to the Hearing 12 phone calls
had been made to the Winery asking if they could come in for a
glass of wine, this has not happened previously.
He wrote to residents to clarify their concerns as
There had been no change
to opening, not a pub, restaurant or hotel and serve cold platters
occasionally but rarely hot soup, no intent to have a full
menu. The 3 applications have not been
due to untrustworthiness.
Mr Balfour-Lynn called Councillor Perry, a Ward Member for Staplehurst as a witness.
Councillor Perry stated that:-
The Winery was not a Wetherspoons, it was first and foremost a Winery where visitors
could go along for tastings and a tour.
He had, himself, gone along to the Winery and brought a bottle of
wine and noted that there was a large party of people there having
wine tasting and he was surprised that there was no noise coming
from the group. In his opinion
visitors should be able to purchase a glass of wine if they so
wish. In his experience internationally
this is normal.
He pointed out that the statutory consultees had not
raised any objections in terms of noise, traffic issues or public
disorder. The amount of traffic travelling to the Winery may
increase but would not be a problem, there are many routes there
and other businesses may use tractors etc.
That the Winery was a serious business and not a
public house. A lot of residents see
this as a prestigious operation they are proud of.
The Winery is very important for the rural economy
and employed local people
Mrs Sarah Easton was then called as a witness for Mr. Balfour-Lynn and commented as follows:-
That she had worked for the Winery for 8 years and
had seen it flourish and that it was
important that it should be allowed to continue to do
that. She indicated that she lived just
up the road from the Winery and regularly cycled on the lanes with
her two young children. She felt the
most danger came from agricultural vehicles that go up and down the
She stressed that the Winery did not want to become
a public house, it was purely for
visitors to come along for a tour and a platter of food and
tastings. At present if people wanted
to buy a glass of wine, they would have to say no.
were trained well and would not serve
anyone who appeared drunk. The
Challenge 25 system was in place where staff
ask for ID. Underage drinking is not allowed.
The Winery was not a child orientated place, it did
have CCTV for public safety and groups were actively encouraged to
book taxis for their journey home after any tasting
The business had made sure that they had good noise
reduction measures and that no noise could be heard outside of the
Balfour-Lynn then called Councillor Louise Brice, another
Staplehurst Ward Member as a
Councillor Brice stated she had just a couple of points to add as follows:-
That when a brand and business is created in
surroundings that are high end luxury, you would not want to create
a pub environment and buyers are invited.
She drove past the business often to nearby schools
and did not have any issues with the lanes. There were more than
one way of getting to the Winery.
Google maps directs traffic past the
Winery and Councillors are seeking to suggest an alternative route
Mr Balfour-Lynn then called
David Curtis-Brignall from Visit Kent
as a witness:-
Mr Curtis-Brignall commented as follows:-
English wine was a growing industry and a great
asset to the wine economy. The Hush
Heath Winery was not about bringing a huge increase in visitors to
a tourist attraction, it wanted to be a high
quality professional winery for those that appreciate good
wine to enjoy not attract pure drinkers.
Visit Kent had awarded Hush Heath their gold award
for visitor attractions from Visit Kent.
Mr Balfour-Lynn called Councillor Greer as a witness:-
Councillor Greer commented as follows:-
He had organised a fund raising event when he was
Mayor of Maidstone to the Hush Heath Winery with other
Mayors. He felt that the tour of the
winery and the educational side was very well done and he had
received favourable feedback from the Mayors that
He stated that when the facility was first opened
they had applied to KCC and Visit Kent to have a brown tourist
sign. However, they were told that they
did not meet the criteria which was that
you would need to have a visitor base of over 20,000 per year or
4,000 if it was seasonal.
The construction of the winery was fantastic, solid
and would absorb noise. In addition he added that it was always
quiet when he had visited it and he had not encountered much
traffic when getting there.
The Chairman asked Mr Kolvin if he had any questions for the applicant or the witnesses, to which he replied that he did not.
Chairman then asked the Members of the Sub-Committee if they had
any questions for the applicant.
In response to the questions asked by Members of the Sub-Committee, Mr Balfour-Lynn advised that:-
The only complaint received was from Mrs Tipples
after he had submitted his last application.
Last year the Winery had 9,800 visitors.
The statement about wanting to increase this to
50,000 was a press statement and he was not responsible for that
The Open Weekends for residents were quite
successful and no complaints had been made directly to the
An inspection was made recently of the building in
terms of noise emissions. The expert
had stated that the building was well within the planning
Mr Kolvin, on behalf of the objectors, gave his opening remarks as follows:-
That Mr Balfour-Lynn had made it clear that he had a
desire to grow
wine tourism at Hush Heath. To
achieve that desire he wanted to vary the current licence to
include the sale of a glass of wine to visitors. The Sub-Committee should be satisfied that
the operation of the business would do no harm to the public in
terms of public nuisance and safety.
This is not a case about promotion of employment, tourism or who
buys or sells quality wine or bio-diversity or awards but is about
protecting the neighbours.
He would not want to see the business grow at the
expense of safety or disturbances. It
was a tranquil area and should stay like that. There should not be
an increase of traffic on the narrow lanes which would create a
risk to public safety.
He took Members through references to uses at the
premises compared to acceptance or rejection of proposed
conditions. For example, Mr Balfour-Lynn had
stated in his letter to Mrs Tipples that he did not want weddings
at the Winery but was not willing to take these off the website or
put this in the conditions.
Mr Balfour-Lynn stated in writing and at the hearing
that he would be willing to agree to some of the conditions
proposed but resistant to putting some of these into the
Residents were concerned that the Winery was
surrounded by country lanes, some of which were single track
roads. The country lanes did not have
lighting, had ditches either side and no
pavements. Therefore, there was a risk
to road users from increased traffic, particularly children walking
in the lanes from school when it is getting dark in the
Mr Stanley expressed concerns about children and
horse riders using the lane and coming into contact with
Mrs Clarke complained that during harvest time the
lanes are muddy and slippery.
Ms Hodgkiss stated that
the lanes were not wide enough for increased traffic
Mr Buller stated that a single track lane was
Mr & Mrs Vesma
stated that the lanes had no white lines and they felt that walking
their son down the lane was a dangerous practice.
Also the acoustics report indicated a low noise
level, it was likely that as the Winery was in a bowl effect sound
would travel and residents were concerned about that.
Mr Kolvin called Mrs Davidson-Houston as a witness.
Mrs Davidson-Houston made the following observations:-
That she lives on a lane within one mile of the
Winery. She enjoyed the lane, walking,
jogging and cycling. However it was the
main road from the A229 Staplehurst to
the Winery and there were no pavements or lights. Each side of the road had large
ditches. She viewed it as dangerous for
children to walk along.
In her opinion to allow glasses of wine to be sold
would substantially increase the amount of traffic to the Winery as
it would have wider appeal. The lanes are not suitable for that
especially if there were coach tours.
School buses return at around 5 p.m. when it is dark
in the winter months which may coincide with traffic coming away
from the Winery.
· There is now a roof top terrace which if the opening hours increased, would make potential for noise between 6-7 p.m.
Mr Kolvin continued with his remarks:-
The original application had the constraint to
prevent public nuisance that the licence would be restricted to
tasting samples. Mr Balfour-Lynn now
wants to extend it to visitors being able to purchase a glass of
He covered all applications and changes and that
these have caused his clients to be worried about the
The marketing material gave cause for concern about
Mr Balfour-Lynn’s intentions which stated that the Winery had
a 200 capacity tasting room, large commercial kitchen and roof top
An article in a publication stated that the Winery
had seen its numbers grown from 20,000 and with a new building
should grow to 50,000 visitors.
A position for an Events Manager was
Four companies had been advertising tasting tours in
53 seater coaches.
· That Mr Balfour-Lynn is offering informal assurances but these needed to be put in the conditions of the licence.
The meeting was adjourned at 1 p.m. until 2.15 p.m.
meeting reconvened at 2.15 p.m.
The Chairman asked Mr Balfour-Lynn if he had any questions which despite her explanation then took the form of clarifications and summary.
Mr Balfour-Lynn advised that it was not until the new premises were built in 2018 that tastings were consumed by visitors, not in 2010 as stated by the objectors.
He stressed that much reference had been made to the Winery’s website, he advised that it was currently being rebuilt and would be completed in the next 6-8 weeks. He felt the old website was naively misleading. No weddings had taken place other than his daughter’s and weddings would not be mentioned on the new website and he would be happy for that to be included as a condition.
He emphasised that:-
Winery was not a public house or a restaurant and
would be happy for that to be also included in the
new website would reflect everything discussed at
two terraces for visitors to sit at were
intentionally facing away from residents.
understood the concerns of residents and invited
them to go and see him at any time. An
example he cited was that Mr Stanley had complained about the noise
from the chiller. Mr Balfour-Lynn
advised that he had spent £5,000 to reduce the
saffron beer was not made on site. It was made 5 miles away by his son. The cider is taken away and bottled elsewhere and
allowed are one per week in the summer and one every
two weeks in the winter. Coach parking
is only to prevent parking on areas where it was too
a resident we are also concerned about the road but
we cannot control the road. There have been no accidents since
family owned seven public houses which will increase
to about 15-20 pubs in the next year.
The Events Manager was for whole business, not just the
don’t promote themselves as a family
venue. No child under 10 can enter the
winery and not on premises unless with an adult.
· he was concerned about conditions not because he is resistant to giving confidence to local residents but he needs flexibility without being caught out. It is unsettling for him and the staff.
The Chairman asked Mr Kolvin if he had any questions. Mr Kolvin stated that he did not.
The Chairman asked the Members of the Sub-Committee if they had any questions.
response to a question from a Member, Mr Kolvin stated that Mr Stanley had made a complaint
to the Environmental Health Department in regard to water pollution
and the noise of the chiller.
Mr Balfour-Lynn stated that the
Winery’s own traffic, unless very wet, uses estate roads but
it is an agricultural area and lots of traffic use the
Mrs Bolas then said that there was no indication what decision Members would make but if they were minded to impose conditions on a grant of the application were there conditions that the applicant and other persons would agree?
Mr Kolvin and Mr Balfour-Lynn referred to the
submitted conditions proposed by Mr Kolvin’s clients and Mr Balfour-Lynn’s
responses stating that:-
Many of the schedule conditions have been agreed. Schedule No. 2 should have the word ‘similar’ removed and indicate events not related to Winery activities, other than the 12 per year permitted.
Kolvin referred to previous mentions of
plant fair and car club attendance and said these should be
ancillary to the Winery and that is fine but there can otherwise be
elasticity on corporate events, residents are sensitive after the
The applicant said that it was important that 21 people did not determine restrictions on a large business and that he was nervous that he would risk inadvertent breaches. Mrs Bolas confirmed any restrictions would be determined by Members after hearing all parties. The Applicant said he was content with 2 up to wedding venue but felt the remainder was covered by planning but to assist was happy to accept the condition as suggested, 3-8 are fine. 9 has a difference on number of meetings. The Applicant stated that he believed there could be free contact at any time and could be more constructive, happy to leave it to the Sub-Committee.
On 10 a) Saffron beer is branded Hush Heath but needed to change produced ‘at’ to ‘by’ as it is bottled off site as is the cider. As a concession that was accepted by Mr Kolvin, 10b) was agreed and c) was covered by 2, not operated as a restaurant so could be left.
11, 12 and 13 all refer to core hours and the application remains for 19.00 for on sales.
On 14 a) – c) – fine, d) replace ‘at’ with ‘by’, e) – h) are on the current licence so fine. i) refers to a noise limiter which was said by Mr Kolvin to be inexpensive and normal. The applicant said music was played through a sonos sound system and not at a level to disturb, he felt this would be an over reaction. The applicant said in relation to j) that staff are always present when people are on the premises.
Mr Balfour-Lynn said he felt that good progress had been made but the key issue for him was flexibility for closing. He is very sensitive to issues and in relation to the complaint referred to it related to the private wake of a dear friend. There was an invited guest list and no one paid. There was no breach and it is unsettling to deal with such issues regularly for him and the staff. He would agree to closing for tours, tastings and sales at 19.00, save for the 12 events and online sales.
stated that he agreed not to publicise on sales other than tastings
except within the Winery.
The Chairman asked Mr Kolvin for his closing speech.
Mr Kolvin stated that he had found the Sub-Committee hearing very helpful and thanked everyone present for their patience. He also stressed that the hearing demonstrated that both parties needed to get together to reach common ground on what Mr Balfour-Lynn needed to operate his business and assurance for residents.
Conditions have mainly been agreed leaving only core hours, which is the most important and goes to safety not public nuisance so requires a precautionary approach. Signs say closing at 17.00 or 18.00 and flexibility could be obtained by TENs. Coach frequency restrictions are asked for, particularly on 53 seaters.
Mr Balfour-Lynn was asked if he had any further comments in closing and he stated that he recognised that he needed flexibility to enable his business to run properly. In relation to safety people would not come in the dark or be outside to make noise. The problem with TEN is the need for advance notice so they are not flexible enough to cover where someone stays on a little. He was unclear who is advertising coaches but not encouraged to Hush Heath and he is not sure how to influence that. He simply seeks clarity and to avoid misinformation and the new website will be clear.
The Chairman advised that the Sub-Committee would retire for deliberation.
The meeting closed at 3.30 p.m.
- Application to vary a premise licence under the Licensing Act 2003 for Hush Heath Winery, Hush Heath Estate, Five Oak Lane, Staplehurst, Kent , TN12 0HX, item 12. PDF 174 KB View as HTML (12./1) 176 KB
- A Appendix - Application, item 12. PDF 5 MB
- B Appendix - Gullands Letter, item 12. PDF 68 KB
- HushHeathDoc AppC, item 12. PDF 24 MB
- C1 Appendix - Visit Kent Letter of Support, item 12. PDF 165 KB
- C2 Appendix - Support Letters 23 - 25, item 12. PDF 126 KB View as HTML (12./6) 22 KB
- D Appendix - Hush Heath-SPC Comments 21.02.2019, item 12. PDF 64 KB View as HTML (12./7) 8 KB
- E Appendix E-mail from Mr Balfour Lyn, item 12. PDF 68 KB View as HTML (12./8) 13 KB
- F Appendix - Sarah Easton response to SPC, item 12. PDF 99 KB View as HTML (12./9) 7 KB
- G Appendix - Hush Heath Premise Licence, item 12. PDF 117 KB
- H Appendix - Plans, item 12. PDF 337 KB
- I Appendix - Plan of the area Hush_Heath_Winery, item 12. PDF 151 KB
- J Appendix - HUMAN RIGHTS, item 12. PDF 29 KB View as HTML (12./13) 10 KB
- K Appendix - Order of Procedure of New and Variation Hearings, item 12. PDF 125 KB View as HTML (12./14) 36 KB