Entertainment

Jools Holland wins wedding venue noise row battle

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Jools Holland

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Holland’s website describes him as “a doyen of the music scene”

Musician Jools Holland has won a bid to force a wedding venue next to his home to curb noise later at night.

The renowned ivory-tinkler – known for his annual pre-recorded New Year’s Eve broadcasts – complained about raucous parties at Cooling Castle Barn.

Managers at the venue – where their jazzman neighbour had his own wedding – said they had “bent over backwards” to meet his demands.

But Medway council agreed to impose late-night restrictions on the venue.

Holland, a founding member of new-wave band Squeeze, lives in the 18th Century manor house next to the castle in Cooling near Rochester, Kent.

The wedding venue, which can host up to 250 guests, lies on the edge of the grounds.

‘Consistent disturbances’

Holland, presenter of the popular Later… music programme, has been embroiled in a long-running row with the venue which has divided the village.

The venue organises around 300 weddings a year and employs 80 staff, and can serve alcohol, and host a disco and dancing until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Live music is permitted until 11pm but up to 1am in December from Wednesday to Saturday.

The fed-up band leader complained of “consistent disturbances” day and night, and kept a diary of incidents spanning a 30-day period, which he submitted to the council.

In it, he complained about people outside in the early hours of the morning, shouting and swearing, and of loud music.

‘Noisy hubbub’: Extracts from Jools Holland’s diary

April 7, 11pm to 11.50pm – Shouting continues. Mrs Holland finds it difficult to sleep.

April 17, Easter Monday, 7.22pm to 7.50pm – Karaoke/live music is audible with bedroom window open and shut. How Sweet It is to be Loved By You, You’re Too Good To Be True (sic), and Delilah with crowd singing along.

April 21, 4.06pm – Noisy hubub [sic] with string quartet can be heard all over the garden.

May 7, 9.20am – Small stones were thrown over wall (probably small children) on and next to my mother who was being taken to church by a neighbour.

May 28, late morning – Find high heeled shoe has been thrown over wall. It remains unclaimed.

May 30, from 3.40pm – Unable to rest as there is an amplified singer performing amongst other pieces Nobody Does It Better.

His agent, Paul Loasby, had asked the council to impose a ban on percussion and brass instruments in live performances there.

But a number of villagers, employees and clients of Cooling Castle Barn wrote to the council to defend the operators.

‘Oversensitive’

Letters to the council described Holland’s complaints as “ridiculous”, “outlandish”, and fuelled by his money and power.

Assistant duty manager Karen Frail feared jobs would suffer if restrictions were imposed and suggested Holland’s own wedding would have caused a public nuisance when roads were shut to accommodate “parading guests”, some of whom arrived by noisy helicopters.

James Johnson, who has worked at the venue for 18 years, said it was “ironic” Holland “champions live music” but was calling for a ban.

General manager Rebecca Collins said the celebrity was the only complainant and accused him of being “somewhat oversensitive” to noise.

Forcing her business to restrict its operations would be “catastrophic” and a “massive hit” for the local economy, she said.

“We’ve bent over backwards to address Mr Holland’s complaints,” she said.

The council’s licensing panel did not agree to the request to ban some live music but agreed to modify the venue’s licence to limit use of the garden by guests after certain times, and to implement an agreed noise management policy.

Holland said: “This is simply about containing noise and disturbance, which I’m sure can be resolved so we can all move forward together as good neighbours.”

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The wedding venue lies on the edge of Cooling Castle’s grounds

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