By LUCY ANDERSON-SEVERN
‘To Be Or Not To Be’: that was the question regarding whether Loddon Mill Arts would be granted planning permission from the council to continue running as an entertainments and arts venue.
Loddon Mill Arts is a popular venue that hosts entertainment, art exhibitions and educational events throughout the year, drawing in hundreds of visitors to the historic market town of Loddon.
Held in the former steam house, past events include music from the renowned Henschel Quartet and comedy from the likes of Dan Antopolski and Tom Craine. Along with beautiful music and side-splittingly hilarious comedy, Loddon Mill Arts host educational workshops including their most recent event ‘Mini Monsters In Loddon’.
The events that run from local residents Andy and Katherine Walter’s home were put on hold with fears that they may have to be cancelled permanently. Complaints were put in to the council, resulting in the Walters applying for planning permission to allow the unique events to continue.
An ongoing battle, the Walter’s have appealed to Loddon Parish Council before facing a panel of councillors at the South Norfolk Council office in Long Stratton yesterday.
Claire Curtis, Planning Officer for the council put forward their case before the councillors, after which the applicants and the objectors were allowed to speak.
Acting on behalf of those who objected a representative for neighbours of the Walter’s expressed concerns and objected, “due to noise and disturbance to the immediate properties.”
He also expressed concerns over the volume of traffic due to the events and the implications such events have on neighbouring properties. The Highways Officers raised no objections over the location of the venue or the volume of traffic.
The meeting for a ‘change of use application’ lasted for over an hour with councillors firing questions and challenging the applicants’ request.
Councillor Tim East, who represents Old Costessey, picked fault at various issues including concerns over inadequate toilet facilities. However, the applicants quashed these faults, including the environmental health office, planning officer and many members of the committee.
Andy Walter, proprietor of Loddon Mill Arts spoke on behalf of himself and Katherine stating the importance of the venue to the local community, mentioning the outstanding response it has received from visitors, “Loddon Mill Arts plays a big part in the community bringing together internationally acclaimed musicians and comedians with local villagers and tourists.”
Putting forward the proposal for a change of use application Mr Walter stated they want to run forty-one events throughout the year, including classical concerts, jazz and comedy evenings and educational events.
Andy and Katherine Walter were approved for their application for planning permission with seven councillors, including local Councillor Colin Gould and Chairman William Kemp approving the application. Only Councillor Tim East voted for the application to be refused.
The approval of the application will be well received by the community of Loddon after one hundred and twenty one villagers and friends signed petitions to keep Loddon Mill Arts, and over forty-two individual letters of support were sent to councillors.