Jools Holland wins decade-long noise row with wedding venue next to his home

Jools Holland has won a row over noise at the wedding venue next door to his home - which he used when he married - after a council ruled in his favour.

The entertainer, known for his annual Hootenanny music show for late night New Year's revellers, complained to Medway Council about noise levels at Cooling Castle Barn, near Rochester in Kent, sparking a war with its supporters.

He moved in next door in 2002 and used the venue's facilities when he married his wife Cristabel in 2005 but has been in dispute with the business about the problems for a decade, according to documents submitted to the council.

The application was discussed at a licensing meeting on Tuesday but councillors did not announce their decision until Friday.

They imposed tougher restrictions to "prevent public nuisance", ordering the venue to shut off access to the garden and outside area by 10.30pm on Friday and Saturday nights and 10pm for the rest of the week.

Jools Holland Orchestra
Jools Holland Orchestra

The business must introduce a noise management policy and set up a screened smoking area which is closed an hour before closing time and where drinks are prohibited, Medway Council said.

Mr Holland has been embroiled in talks with the owners to solve the problems ever since the business began to expand in 2007 and guest accommodation was built, papers said.

The 60-year-old, who has been on tour with his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra in Europe, was represented by his family agent Paul Loasby, who claimed the licence conditions were "ineffective" or "effectively ignored" by the management and were in "urgent need of revision and review".

Noise experts were called in and there were "numerous" discussions but he said the problem continued to "blight the lives of its nearest neighbours".

In a letter to the council, Mr Holland said: "There are consistent disturbances every day from early in the morning until late at night."

A view of Cooling Castle, the home of musician Jools Holland (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A view of Cooling Castle, the home of musician Jools Holland (Gareth Fuller/PA)

He kept a diary of incidents on more than 30 days between April and June last year, including comments about "noisy" people outside in the early hours of the morning, shouting, swearing, and loud music.

The venue, which has hosted weddings for nearly 20 years, organises around 300 a year and employs 80 staff, can serve alcohol, have a disco and dancing until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Live music is permitted until 11pm but up to 1am in December from Wednesday to Saturday.

The review was called for on the grounds the regulations were repeatedly breached.

In the application, Mr Loasby suggested a ban on percussion and brass instruments being used for live unamplified music and restrictions on deliveries. These suggestions were not addressed in the ruling.

The review was supported by the council's environment team who issued two abatement notices in June last year for noise and a "pungent cooking odour" emanating from the kitchen.

But an army of supporters including employees, neighbours, wedding businesses and toastmasters hit back in letters to the council.

General manager Rebecca Collins accused Mr Holland of being "somewhat oversensitive" to noise, said he was the only complainant and some of his concerns were "trivial", adding: "[He] seems to consider that any noise is unacceptable. We are a responsibly run business."

She said "numerous" steps had been taken to improve noise levels including spending £70,000 on insulation, bringing in a security team and ensuring noise from drunk patrons outside was "swiftly" dealt with.

She claimed forcing the award-winning venue to restrict its operations would be "catastrophic" and a "massive hit" for the local economy.

Some neighbours accused Mr Holland's "ridiculous" and "outlandish" demands as being fuelled by his "money" and "power". His application was described as "frivolous" and "vexatious".

Neighbour Jodie Payne claimed he had "no interest in the village" and was not "approachable" while Teresa Arthur said he had a "vendetta".

James Johnson, who has worked at the venue for 18 years, said it was "ironic" Mr Holland "champions live music" but was calling for a ban.

Head chef Karl Arneil accused Mr Holland of being a "greedy", "part-time resident", adding: "We do not deserve this to happen to us. We all love and care for Cooling Castle Barn."

Assistant duty manager Karen Frail feared jobs would suffer if restrictions were imposed and suggested Mr Holland's own wedding would have caused a public nuisance when roads were shut to accommodate "parading guests", some of whom arrived by noisy helicopters.