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Cider barn, tap room and cafe planned for Hungerford Park

Hungerford could get a new food, drink and events venue - unless objectors win the day and the licence gets refused.

Hungerford Park Estates - a farm adjoining Hungerford Common - wants to expand its offer, and its licences to sell food and drink, and develop a wedding venue business.

Concerns have been raised over the safety of the cattle on Hungerford Common
Concerns have been raised over the safety of the cattle on Hungerford Common

The plans include a cider barn, spirit barn and tap room, and the site is to include The Funghi Club restaurant and Berkshire Trout - a kitchen area for food preparation.

But locals, including the charity which manages Hungerford Common, are objecting because they say it will lead to antisocial behaviour and will impact the dark skies initiative.

West Berkshire Council's licensing sub committee met this week to hear from the applicant Toby Hunter and his business partner David Walker, and will now chew on representations before making a decision.

Mr Hunter bought the land 15 years ago, and has over that time turned the area into a farm with organic livestock and produce. It already has holiday homes - and he plans to create a cafe in the Victorian walled garden area.

Hungerford Town and Manor representative Ben Leb said: "The Common has agreements with Natural England for cattle grazing and grassland management. There can be up to 150 cattle there.

"There is public safety concern of an increase in traffic and extremely likely this will go through the common creating risk of injury, and the cattle are black and not easy to spot at night.

"There is a real concern of noise and light nuisance affecting the livestock and dark skies."

Hungerford Common
Hungerford Common

The applicant wanted to know if the Town and Manor had considered him a bad neighbour over the years, but Mr Leb could not answer that.

But he stressed that the Common had the right to refuse the applicant access to the common from his land.

The six representations received within the consultation period objecting to the application believe that the granting of the licence would mean increased traffic, road safety and air pollution, risk of noise nuisance, the safety of the properties near to Hungerford Park, and increased likelihood of crime and disorder from intoxicated people.

"Broken bottles will present a danger to cattle and dogs," said Denise Gaines (Lib Dem, Hungerford and Kintbury), who also thought people who'd had a drink would be at risk stumbling across the common.

The applicant said he would limit the number of weddings to 15 a year if asked, but as one of the objectors pointed out - that would mean a wedding every week in the summer months.

In the application the Cider Barn is described as a cider production business, using the estate grown apples to produce premium quality cider, sold locally as well as further afield.

It says cider tastings will be arranged from time to time.

Spirit Barn is described as an apple spirit and cider vinegar production business, using the estate produced cider to create artisanal spirits and vinegars.

The council is also asked to license the sale of alcohol there until 11pm most nights, as well as late night refreshment, and regulated entertainment – live music and recorded music.

Hungerford Park previously held a premises licence under the trading name International Wine Limited, Cider Barn, Hungerford Park, Hungerford.

This licence was granted in July 2020 and was for the supply of alcohol off the premises only, during the hours of 8am to 7pm.

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