Plans to use a popular cafe at a Leicestershire country park as a venue for events including the sale of alcoholic drinks could lead to “considerable damage” to the nature spot, objectors have warned.
Leicestershire County Council is applying for a premises licence for Beacon Hill Cafe at Beacon Hill Country Park, near Loughborough.
The application seeks permission for the centre to host dance performances, plays, film showings and live and recorded music, with managers planning to use the decking at the front of the cafe for the entertainment events.
A number residents have written to Charnwood Borough Council to oppose the plans, raising concerns over the extra traffic that the events would bring, the potential for rubbish being left on the ground and noise pollution in the area.
One person wrote: “Use of the area for music, plays, films and the consumption of alcohol will completely destroy the peace and quiet, not only for the human visitors to the park, but also for the wild animals (dear, foxes, badgers, squirrels, a wide variety of birds that make the park their home).
“The meadow next to the seating area is currently awash with orchids and other wild flowers, which have been carefully nurtured by volunteers.
“Were the proposed use of the cafe to go ahead, this area will inevitably be trampled on and destroyed. This is not an appropriate use of Beacon Park.”
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Countryside preservation charity CPRE raised concerns that the car park could be used for post-event drinking after the cafe had closed, and that young families would be discouraged from visiting the park if they saw “inappropriate behaviour from drink fuelled visitors”.
A spokesperson for Leicestershire County Council said: “We are delighted with the continued popularity of our cafe and are now looking to make it even more inviting to visitors, with a new menu featuring a wider choice of drinks, food and snacks.
“We are applying for an alcohol licence with a view to offering small-scale special events such as prosecco afternoon teas and twilight events where visitors can enjoy a glass of wine in the café or on the decking outside. There will be no off-licence sales.
“We have worked closely with Charnwood Borough Council and Leicestershire Police in making the licensing application.
“Events we plan will be in keeping with the nature of the park and as they will be pre-booked, we will be able to control the number of people attending and thus do not anticipate any traffic problems.
“We will ensure we have adequate facilities to deal with litter.
“We are confident that the improved services we offer will not impact on others enjoying the café or the park itself.”
The licensing sub-committee at Charnwood Borough Council is to decide on the plans at a meeting on Friday, July 30, at 10am.