Historic country hall and estate blocked from hosting weddings

Aerial view of Quy Hall and its grounds.
The owners of Quy Hall have been told they can't host weddings and other private events in the estate grounds. -Credit:Google

The family who own a historic country hall and estate near Cambridge have been blocked from holding weddings and other events. The owners of Quy Hall in Stow-cum-Quy had wanted to host events, including weddings, within the estate grounds for up to 12 weekends a year.

They proposed to put up a marquee on a lawned area to accommodate the events. Quy Hall is a Grade II* Listed Building while the associated coach house, stables, bothies and garden walls are Grade II Listed. The Francis family said Quy Hall had been in their family since 1855 and that they wanted to hold events such as weddings to help pay for the upkeep of the historic hall.

However, South Cambridgeshire District Council refused to grant permission for the change in use of the ground to hold events. The authority said changing the estate to a wedding venue was not considered to be “farm diversification”, and it said no justification or business plan had been provided to show how the change of use would support the agricultural business and would be acceptable in the countryside.

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An appeal was lodged by the family near the end of last year to try and overturn the district council’s decision. In a statement submitted to the planning inspectorate, the family said: “The appellant, together with their estate advisors, have considered a range of options for Quy Hall to raise revenue to offset the considerable expenses of maintaining the heritage asset.

“With the benefit of advice from Historic Houses and the Country Land and Business Association, of which they are active members, the appellants have assessed that limited events (including weddings) offer the best opportunity for raising revenue whilst minimising the potential short and long term impacts of which the Quy Hall Estate is very cognisant, being a landlord to many local residents and businesses as well as residents themselves. This use would also be compatible with maintaining the primary use of the Hall as a domestic residence.”

However, the planning inspector said they agreed with the district council that the events should not take place and dismissed the appeal. In the planning inspector’s report they said: “I have found the proposal would not constitute inappropriate development and therefore would not harm green belt openness.

“However, the proposal is not a type supported by the development plan in the countryside and is not justified by support for the continued operation of an agricultural or land-based rural business. Therefore, it would not be in a suitable location. The proposal fails to demonstrate harm to the setting of heritage assets would not occur, nor that harm would be outweighed by public benefit.

“In addition, the proposal fails to demonstrate that living conditions of occupants of nearby dwellings would not be adversely impacted, and that adequate highway safety would be achieved. In the absence of certainty, I have concluded harm would arise and conflict with the development plan would occur.”

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