Council rules against Ross Taylor's festival site

East Cambs licensing hearing

Licensing hearing at East Cambridgeshire District Council that has refused application by Ross Taylor for a festival site at Pymoor. - Credit: ECDC

Ross Taylor has been refused permission to turn Willow Farm, Pymoor, into what many feared looked on paper, at least, to be a ‘mini-Glastonbury’. 

A licensing hearing decided that given the location, topography of the surrounding landscape and the lack of specific noise and light assessments there is “likely to be substantial (based on the worst-case scenario) harm”. 

The verdict was issued by East Cambridgeshire District Council last night (Thursday), three days after the hearing at Ely on Monday.  

An arch lever file of 214 objections had been presented to the committee – only two letters of support were received.  

Although Mr Taylor had denied it was his intention, the committee heard that the license application would have allowed him “to host events at the premises 365 days per year”. 

The committee said they considered four key licensing objectives to consider: 

The Prevention of Crime and Disorder 

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Public Safety  

The Prevention of Public Nuisance  

The Protection of Children from Harm  

The committee said on the last issue – that of the protection of children – they felt there was not sufficient information before them to feel confident the objective this “was engaged”. 

Also, of concern was allowing a “predominantly flat area, sparsely populated” area to become a location for live music events.  

"The history of the premises shows that there have not been live music events previously in this location,” the committee said. 

“The site had previously been used as a commercial food production unit (Corkers Crisps) which employed 110 employees before its destruction from fire in 2020.” 

Ross Taylor wants create a festival and events venue in Pymoor

Ross Taylor wanted to create a festival and events venue in Pymoor - Credit: Archant/Google Street View

The committee also noted concerns by police over the possibility of “potential public nuisance to local residents” caused by noise and event traffic.  

Environment health officers highlighted concerns over lack of information about likely numbers attending such events.  

And they felt the application lacked detail in how they proposed to control music noise.  

The committee said they had looked at additional information provided by Mr Ross with respect to lighting and noise impacts in relation to the redevelopment of the factory site. 

They decided these were “irrelevant to this application”.  

Location plan for Ross Taylor's festival application

Location plan for Ross Taylor's festival application - Credit: Google

Objections included the risk of fire and damage to crops, risk of damage to livestock and the remoteness of the site. 

They also included lack of public transport, the rural nature of the site and lack of infrastructure for walkers. 

And some felt the application posed the risk of an increase in in crime and criminal behaviour in the area and the significant risk to pedestrians accessing and leaving. 

District and county councillors told the committee of their concerns over the extent of the licence to operate all year round, poor road links, risk to public safety, and potential for noise pollution. 

“While the sub-committee support opportunities for local employment and for the local entertainment this application proposed, the lack of specific information means it cannot afford it any great weight,” says the report. 

The subcommittee listed other criticisms included an event management plan which was “only a sample and not a working document”. 

Ross Taylor and Princess Royal

Corkers boss Ross Taylor welcomes HRH Princess Royal on a visit to Corkers Crisps at Pymoor in 2019. The following year the factory burnt down. - Credit: Archant

The committee said the law did not have a specific definition of public nuisance and so therefore they felt it should be determined within “its broad common law meaning.  

“Public nuisance could include the reduction of the living and working amenity and environment of other persons living in the area of the licensed premises”. 

The committee’s summary noted concerns over illegal parking issues, increased volume of traffic and the “disturbance” that villagers would endure. 

And with up to 4,999 able to attend had the application succeeded, they were concerns about getting into and leaving the site.  

The committee’s conclusion also focused on what they felt was “lack of proper and relevant detailed information”. 

They felt unable to impose conditions on any licence that would address what they felt was an overall failure by the applicant to promote licensing objectives.  

“Having considered all the evidence presented, the sub-committee determined that the application did not promote the Licensing objective,” it said. 

“The application is refused.” 

Mr Taylor has 21 days to appeal to a magistrates’ court.