Cider Barn licence approved

Entrance to Orchardleigh Farm in Stone Allerton

Cider Barn licence approved - Credit: Google maps

A Somerset cider barn has been granted a licence to sell alcohol and play music for patrons – though an appearance by The Wurzels has already been ruled out.

Stephen Rolfe and his wife Suzanne run the Cider Barn on Orchardleigh Farm, which lies in the village of Stone Allerton, near Cheddar.

The couple applied to Sedgemoor District Council for a new licence, allowing them to serve alcohol to their customers and play live and recorded music during special events, including on New Year’s Eve.

The council’s licensing and gambling panel has now ruled in the couple’s favour, despite objections from numerous nearby homeowners.

Under the new licence, alcohol can be sold for consumption both on and off the premises between 11.30am and 11pm daily.

Live music can be played daily between 6pm and 11pm, and recorded music can be provided on-site between 11.30am and 11.30pm – with an extension until 1am for both forms of entertainment on New Year’s Eve.

Mr Rolfe told a virtual session of the panel on November 10 that in practice the barn would not be open to the public to that extent.

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He said: “What our actual intention is to open from 11.30am to 5pm daily for the tasting of cider, and then two days a week we’d open it until 11pm for use as a tap room.

“Customers will not be able to take open alcohol containers from the premises. Discussions have taken place with the police and fire service over ways to prevent overcrowding.

“We intend to live music, if possible, a couple of times a year. We don’t want to do anything to upset our friends and neighbours.”

The Cider Barn is surrounded by around 2,100 apple trees and is around 150 metres away from the nearest property.

Mr Rolfe said he had worked closely with Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service on the proposals, as well as staging an information open day which was attended by 80 people.

Cllr Charlie Riches – who represents the neighbouring Cheddar and Shipham ward – raised concerns about the noise which events could generate and questioned whether there was sufficient parking on site.

He said: “There was a mention that perhaps you’ll have The Wurzels come and perform. They’re a very popular group in this part of the world – what do you have in place to be able to put on this sort of activity?”

Mr Rolfe responded: “The whole Wurzels piece was a tongue-in-cheek comment – people thought we’d have Glastonbury here with thrash metal. We have no intentions of anything of that size – it’ll be a small band.”

A handful of people objected to the proposals, arguing any increase in noise and traffic levels would ruin their quality of life.

Respondent Mrs Drinkwater said: “Stone Allerton is a peaceful, rural village at present and the proposed licensed premises are surrounded by countryside residences.

“For locals to enjoy a quiet drink at the barn, I do not consider it necessary for a licence to be granted for amplified music, only for this noise to be inflicted on neighbours and other residents in the surrounding area.”

Gary Homer added: “I fail to see how providing alcohol and music daily at these times cannot be construed as a public nuisance in the heart of the village setting.

“The licence would allow up to 499 people to attend functions, totally overwhelming the locality and infrastructure.”

Bob Quantrill, chairman of Weare Parish Council, countered by arguing that granting the licence would provide an alternative hub for the community while the Wheatsheaf pub was closed for renovations.

He said: “This will make a great alternative to residents, and as we know places like this do bring the community together.”

After around 45 minutes’ debate in a confidential session, the panel voted to approve the new licence.

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