Shropshire Star

Pattingham vineyard gets permission to sell wine and host tours

A South Staffordshire vineyard has been granted permission to sell wine and host tours of the site – but nearby residents fear the extra activity will shatter the peace of their tranquil hamlet.

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Grapes grown at Pattingham Vineyard are used to produce wine just eight miles from the site. Its Nurton Brook Solaris white wine scooped a bronze medal in this year’s GB Wine Awards.

The 12 acre vineyard was set up in 2018 and the Wilcox family who run it now want to start selling wine from the site online and over the phone. They are also looking to offer tours of the vineyard to customers, with the opportunity to sample wine onsite.

But their application to South Staffordshire Council for a premises licence met with opposition from residents living near the Great Moor Road site.

And the application itself was described as “defective” by a barrister representing eight residents at a hearing on Wednesday, when it was revealed that just one of the four partnership members had signed the form and been named on the document when all were required to give these details.

The council’s licensing sub-committee also heard that just one notice of the application had been put up at the site, when there should have been three in total – one placed every 50 metres along the perimeter. But a representative for the applicants said they had acted on advice given by the licensing officer and the licensing panel members agreed to go ahead with the hearing.

There were 10 objections submitted to South Staffordshire Council in response to the application on the grounds of public nuisance and public safety. Concerns were raised about a proposal to offer live music at one-off events, but this was later withdrawn.

Arthur George Law said: “The roads leading to the Vineyard, both Moor Lane and Great Moor Road, are narrow, single track in part and in a poor state of repair. From a public safety point of view there are no pavements and little street lighting.

“The entrance is also directly on a corner where these two lanes meet and visibility is poor. Whilst I would respect that the majority of people do not drink and drive this application could facilitate a risk to public safety should this ever occur.

“I believe that the granting of this application will encourage public nuisance, particularly if the volume of attendees is not restricted.

"I understand that the vineyard has to sell its produce and I have no objections to this being done online, by wine merchants, via restaurants and off site retailers; but I strongly object to this application for on-site drinking and live music.”

Simon Maddox said: “Public safety is a major concern as the road approaching the hamlet of Great Moor is very narrow and there is no mention in the application of adequate on-site parking. There is a very real potential for accidents with inadequate lighting to the road and no accessible footpaths.

“This is unnecessary intrusion in the Green Belt. Although the vines are situated on Great Moor Road, the sales of the wine can be undertaken from anywhere and this is not required to be onsite.”

Andy Evans, who represented objectors at Wednesday’s hearing, said: “This is an application in a particularly sensitive and quiet rural area. The proposal is to introduce a commercial alcohol-led enterprise into the heart of this quiet hamlet.

“You are more likely to hear the clip clop of horses’ hooves than a delivery van. This application will shatter the peace of the small hamlet and the extra traffic will make it unsafe for residents and children.

“The original application sought the licensing of a vast area of open land and live music. Even if the modified application is granted it will open the door for further licensable activities in the future.”

Nick Semper, who represented the applicants, said the original application had been amended to be “a fraction of what it formerly was”. He added: “The initial application appeared on its face to be very broad in its terms and consequently attracted some concerns of local residents.

“The intention is to run a mostly internet-based pick, pack and despatch operation from a small barn on site, providing a route to market which has only been available so far via third party sales platforms. Any wine products brought onsite going forwards will be stored in a secure storage unit within that same barn.

“They also intend to run small-scale connoisseur vineyard experience tours twice per day between 11am and 7pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between May and October and these would have no more than 12 visitors per tour – all being pre-booked online. The applicant would like to be able to sell wine by the glass to these visitors and make off-sales to them at the end of the tour.

“The applicant would like to conduct wine tasting events about once a month, ideally aimed at bulk-purchasing clients such as golf club and restaurant chain owners, whereby such bulk purchasers would be invited on site to see the viniculture taking place, appreciate the provenance and processes involved in producing this quality product.

“There is currently no gate to the premises but the intention is to fit one and then only admit visitors by appointment only. There will therefore be no passing trade or a ‘bottle shop’ open to the public on site.”

The licensing sub-committee agreed unanimously to grant the premises licence subject to a series of conditions. These include off-sales operation times for internet and telephone order processing of 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

Experience tours may take place twice daily between May and October between 11am and 7pm on Saturdays and 11am and 4pm on Sundays and there must be at least a two hour gap between the two daily tours. No groups will be allowed to travel to and from the site by public vehicle, such as minibus.