Meditation centre under fire for noise of children playing
The Holycombe Spiritual Development Centre in Whichford, Warwickshire, offers courses in Pilates, massage and meditation, as well as spiritual dance and music. It includes a campsite with space for 30 tents and yurts.
But according to one of the centre's neighbours, author Terry Mayer, the atmosphere at the centre is far from peaceful.
"Everything was fine, and we had no opposition to the holistic centre, but the campsite is causing noise which is very intrusive to us," he told the Daily Telegraph. "If we sit on our terrace, and with a prevailing wind, we can hear conversations from the campsite quite clearly as well as children playing."
He is attempting to get a judicial review to overturn the council's decision to award retrospective planning permission for the campsite.
The centre's website boats of its "sense of peace and tranquillity". Set in four acres, it's built on the site of a Norman castle and boasts a moat, a stone circle and a natural spring. It was founded by Sally and Andy Birtwell, who were inspired by Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings.
Andy Birtwell admits that there was a noise problem at one point. "In 2011, somebody put an article in the Independent saying we were the best campsite in England, and we got a whole lot of groups turning up with up to ten adults in a party," he says.
"They did make a terrible noise; it was completely horrible."
Since then, though, the couple has restricted the size of groups and issued strict rules about noise.
"During the whole of 2012 and 2013, not one single complaint about noise was made," he says. "The only thing left is that on a sunny Saturday afternoon if you're near the campsite, you will probably hear the sound of a child playing - but that's the only noise you will hear."