Agenda item

Application to Grant a Premises Licence in respect of Gemfest 2024 - Licensing Act 2003

To consider an application for a grant of an occasional premises licence in respect of Gemfest 2024,  "Farmland opposite", Great Howle Farm, Howle Hill, Ross-on-Wye, HR9 5SL under the Licensing Act 2003.


Members of the licensing Sub-Committee from the Council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee considered the above application, full details of which appeared before the members in their agenda, and the supplementary information published on 31 May 2024.

Prior to making their decision the Council’s Licensing Officer presented the report which outlined the options available to the Sub-Committee. One representation was received from the Responsible Authorities; Trading Standards – who asked for one condition which were agreed by the applicant. Fifteen relevant public representations had been received. A number of relevant public representations contained information that was not relevant e.g.: increased traffic, wildlife issues and Scheduled Monument in the area 'Great Howle Camp'. The Licensing Officer summarised the application, provided an overview of the representations received and outlined the licensing history relating to the licensing of the site.


The Sub-Committee heard from the public representatives that:


·         There was a significant risk of crime and disorder posed by the festival. At a similar event in 2009 there was serious sexualassault.

·         The increase of the number of people to the area undermined the safety and security of the local area. The presence of a large crowd increased the pressure on law enforcement and increasedthe likelihoodof opportunisticcrime. Thelocal policestation wasonly openpart time and was 20 minutes from thesite.

·         The festival was likely to result in an increase in litter and general disorderlocally.

·         It was queried where those attendees who were not camping would go when the festival closed.

·         The festival was located in an isolated, rural location with no public transport links, it was queried how people would access the site. Individuals travelling and arriving on site in cars would pose a safety risk as the site was accessed through narrow countrylanes.

·         Preventionof publicnuisance –The festivalwas locatedin alawful, lowcrime communityand tranquil setting andthis festivalwas unwelcome.The locationfor theevent wasnot suitablein the environment. This would undermine the licensing objective of the prevention of public nuisance.

·         There had been a lack of consultation with the localcommunity.

·         People below the age of 18 would attempt to attend the event and this would undermine the licensing objective of protecting children fromharm.

·         The impact of the music, which would be drum and bass and garage, with deep bass would undermine the licensing objective of the prevention of public nuisance. The noise from the festival site would echo round the valley. The noise from the festival constituted a noise nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act1990.

·         The topography of the area would amplify the sound from the festival site; the assessment of noise received failed to take account of the topography and was misleading. The volume and carry of noisefrom thesite couldbe affectedby anumber offactors includingair temperature, the frequency of the noise and the presence of acoustic barriers. Straw bales would be place to attenuate noise but these were not specialist noise attenuationequipment.

·         The names ofthe Gemfestorganisers andthe involvementof PullUp recordingswas queried. Marketing videos on the social media sites associated with the applicant and organiser were irresponsible and suggested they would not comply withconditions.

·         There were inadequate numbers of SIA staff, the ratio of attendees to SIA staff was not appropriate and would risk disorder on the site. It was queried what contingencies were in place to deal with an influx of individuals without tickets.

·         There were inadequatenumbers ofhealth andsafety staff,the ratioof attendeesto healthand safety staff was unacceptable particularly with young people drinking anddancing.

·         The Heras fencing proposed for the site posed a danger as it could be pushed over with a resulting domino effect and could causeinjury.

·         The application undermined the objective of the prevention of public nuisance. The music consisted of loud, bass beats and the location on top of Howle Hill with more stages than previous events would cause anuisance.

·         Last year’s event was loud anddisruptive.

·         No specialist noise barriers were proposed in theapplication.

·         The applicant hadacknowledged loudnoise fromthe previousevent butthere wasno mention ofthe impacton enjoymentof localresident’s homes.Sleep willbe affectedand soundchecks could start at 9:30 a.m. – 11:00a.m.

·         The application was contrary to the Statement of Licensing Policy2020/2025.

·         The festival would increase pollution from traffic and food outlets. Laser and lighting from the event would also beunacceptable.

·         The proposed changes to hours made no difference and would still cause a significant disturbance.

·         Poor weather could cause significant problems for the festival and localinfrastructure.

·         The risk of fire was unacceptable and it would be problematic for the Fire Service to access thelocation.

·         Residents would not be able to leave their homes, they would need to remain in their houses to protect theirproperty.

·         The impact on local resident’s mental health wasunacceptable.

·         Videos on social media from Pull Up recordings showed irresponsiblebehaviour.

·         It had been confirmed that 1,000 tickets had now sold, there was a concern that a number of people would attend from local area with and withouttickets.

·         Drug usage on the site was a significantconcern.

·         Effects on the community – noise impact day and night. Resident’s felt they would have to change their plans to protect property, animals and businesses and it would effect their ability to attendwork.

·         There was a lack of consideration of disabledattendees.

·         The efficacy of the drugs amnesty was questioned.


The Sub-Committee then heard from the applicant’s representative that:

·         The festival would provide a chance to show off local talent. Originally the attendance was targeted 1,300 but now would be1,000.

·         Numbers have been reduced, it was likely to be 1,000 on Saturday and 800 onFriday.

·         There would be75 otherattendees onsite includingorganisers, securityand healthand safety operatives.

·         There were plans in place to block people attempting to attend after hours and staff on hand to ensure people leave the site aftermidnight.

·         Experienced individuals were on the staff and the eventorganisers.

·         A number of plans, policies and assessments had been undertaken to regulate the event.

·         A Temporary Event Notice (TEN) was in place. In the event that the occasional premises licencewas notapproved, theevent wouldgo aheadunder theTEN, witha restrictionof upto 500 people. Under the authority of the TEN the festival could go on until 4:00 a.m.; if the occasional licence was granted the TEN would besurrendered.

·         The occasional licence could only be refused if there was evidence that the event would undermined the licensingobjectives.

·         There was no history of disorder or recorded noise complaints for thisapplicant.

·         Noobjections hadbeen raisedby LicensingAuthority, thePolice, Children’sServices orPublic Health.

·         Trading Standards had made representations and the conditions proposed had been accepted. No responsible authorities offered any evidence to object to theapplication.

·         Nostock’ and ‘Rock the Barn’ were similar events in rural areas and the issues that had been feared in advance had notresulted.

·         The serious sexual assault in 2009 had nothing to do with current application orapplicant.

·         Comprehensive control measures were implemented.

·         The proposed hours of the event had been restricted tomidnight.

·         The fear and speculation concerning what may occur was not admissible to consider in hearings, the decision must be evidencebased.

·         The Thwaites case was important to consider and demonstrated that evidence was required to support the refusal of anapplication.

·         There was no history of recorded problems with the festival and e.g.noise            complaints to EH.


Following questioning by the Sub-Committee it was confirmedthat:

·         The applicant wouldsurrender theTEN ifthe premiseslicence wasgranted asapplied forwith the restriction of hours to midnight.

·         12 SIA staffhave beenbooked ata ratioof 1:100plus 2;the numberof SIAstaff mightincrease if thenumbers attendingalso increased.The securityplan hadalready beenscrutinised bythe police.

·         A noise hotlinehad beenpublicised forpeople toring duringthe eventwith issuesabout noise levels. The number had been provided to the Parish Council and localresidents.

·         The noise monitoring plan had not yet been signed off by the Environmental Health department.

·         Three first aid time-out areas would be on site and consultation had been undertaken with West Midlands ambulance service have beenconsulted.


The Sub-Committee carefully considered all the representations, reports and evidence before them. They have had regard to their duties under S4 of the Licensing Act and considered guidance issued unders182 ofthe LicensingAct 2003and HerefordshireCouncil’s Statementof LicensingPolicy 2020

- 2025.


The legal adviser to the Sub-Committee confirmed the following with the applicant and applicant’s agent:

·         The Changes proposed by the Sub-Committee to the timescales contained withinthe original conditions in the application, as contained in the attachedconditions;

·         If the changes to the conditions proposed by the Sub-Committee were accepted by the Applicant and the Sub-Committee granted the amended application, the committee sought confirmation that, the TEN would be withdrawn by the applicant and the event would operate under the premises licenceonly.


The Applicant’s Agent and the Applicant confirmed that the proposed amendments were acceptable and should the Premises Licence be granted as amended by the Committee, the TEN would be withdrawn.


There was an adjournment at 1:38 p.m.; the meeting reconvened at 2:22 p.m.



TheSub-Committee’s decisionis toapprove theamended applicationsubject tothe conditionthat the TEN submitted on 8th April 2024 being withdrawn and the event, Gemfest, operates solely under the premiseslicence.



The Sub-Committee has taken into account the detailed representations and information presented to the hearing and fully recognises the concerns raised by the local residents and the reasons why the representations were made. The Sub-Committee can only consider those representations that relate to one or more of the licensing objectives.

TheSub-Committee considerswith theconditions thathave beenreviewed atthis hearing,overall the application made is comprehensive and will promote the licensingobjectives.

The committee notes that the Trading Standards Department made a representation which was accepted by the applicant.

The Committee notes that Environmental Health Officers are looking at this festival and providing adviceto theorganisers onthe NoiseManagement Plan.The officersare planningto attendthe SAG meeting on Friday, 14th June and are going to carry out environmental noise monitoring during the event.

The Sub-Committee would strongly advise that should the premises licence conditions not be complied with, that the residents use the provided Hotline and also inform Herefordshire Council

Environmental Health and Licensing Department as well as the other appropriate Responsible Authorities so that concerns are properly documented as soon as practicable.


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