A businessman who planned to set up an eco-friendly wedding venue and conference centre in rural Sheffield has made a formal complaint to the city council - after couples were forced to make other arrangements because of a licensing row.
Mark Woodward, the owner of Green Directions at Stannington, launched an appeal after the council refused him a premises licence following objections from neighbours and environmental protection officers worried about noise.
He would still be able to use Townfield Head Farm for weddings and events under canvas, but only by applying for a temporary event notice in each case, risking objections.
Mr Woodward said five couples were ‘left in the lurch’ following the decision last year by licensing committee members, and that he was left surprised by the refusal as weddings had been run at the site ‘with no complaints’ since 2011.
He applied for permanent permission following advice from the council. This was to cover 10 weddings and five other events per year, a programme which struck a balance between enterprise and rural life, Mr Woodward said.
An appeal was launched with court dates allocated, but the hearing was adjourned, Mr Woodward claims, because of a settlement which failed to materialise.
The booked weddings took place at other local venues.
But Mr Woodward said businesses such as pubs, B&Bs and caterers lost the benefits that Green Directions’ weddings provided.
He launched the operation three years ago as a conference and training centre, installing wind turbines, a solar panel and heat pumps.
Mr Woodward said the complaint was ‘the first stage of a process by which we intend to hold a number of individuals, council departments and councillors to account for their unprofessional, inconsistent and irrational actions that have caused a lot of distress to a number of wedding couples, their families and friends’.
A spokesman for Sheffield Council said: “We are aware of the complaint lodged by Mr Woodward of Green Directions, relating to the recent handling of his licencing application.
“However, we are in the process of investigating this complaint and so are unable to comment upon it at this time.”