Villagers fear divisive plans to turn the grounds of an 18th century country house into a wedding destination will “shatter their peace” forever.
Proposals are in to erect a marquee to host up to 30 events a year at the Grade II*-listed Ripple Court, on the outskirts of Deal.
Some neighbours fear the gatherings will generate intolerable noise and disturb local wildlife, while others are concerned about increased traffic in the narrow lanes surrounding the site in Wingleton Lane, Ripple.
But many believe the proposals – which include up to 42 parking spaces – will provide a welcome boost to local hotels, B&Bs and florists.
Dover District Council’s planning committee will decide tomorrow whether to approve the contentious application.
It is being spearheaded by event company Nunc Est Bibendum – Latin for “now is the time for drinking ” – which was formed in August 2020 by the owners of Ripple Court.
They bought the property that summer after it was marketed for £2.75m by agents Strutt and Parker, which described it as a “sleeping beauty” and “one of east Kent’s most important country houses”.
Planning papers state the the owners intend to keep the main house as a family home and use money generated from the wedding business to fund its upkeep, as well as that of other buildings in the grounds.
They say the 60ft marquee would be up between May and September and host a maximum of 30 events a year, each for no more than 120 guests.
Weddings would be held between midday and 11.30pm, with music stopping at 10.30pm.
But locals say the times suggested, as well as planned soundproofing, do not go far enough to reduce the impact on their lives.
Jonathan Cronk, 74, who has lived nearby for 33 years and is “completely against” the plans, told KentOnline: “It will be disruptive and noisy to a way of life for people who have lived here for a long time.
“This is a quiet residential area – it isn’t designed for this kind of activity.
“It will disrupt us at the very time of year we want to enjoy our gardens in the evenings.
“Everybody knows how weddings end up – not all of them, but most of them with a lot of drink and a lot of noise.”
Stephen Coveney, who also lives nearby with his wife Lucy Bagley, has concerns about increased noise and traffic.
“A canvas marquee is thin so there will be the sound of discotheques, music and shouting, and people drunk – it is just unbelievable there is a planning application for this in such a small environment.
“It should have been bought as a home, and left as a home.
“People who have objected are also concerned about traffic racing up and down the roads, and drivers unfamiliar with the roads getting lost at night.
“We have already had a car completely take out the front of our gate.
“The roads in the summer are chock-a-block with tractors going up and down all day.”
Mark Batchelor’s garden is about 150 yards from where the marquee is proposed to be erected.
“In the evenings in the summer we like to sit out in the garden after work, and at the moment it is nice and quiet,” the 58-year-old said.
“Can you imagine someone else’s music stopping that?
“It is just unbelievable there is a planning application for this in such a small environment…”
“The traffic is less of an issue for me, but people do use my drive as a passing place and that is just going to get worse.”
Mark Vurley, who is one of the owners at nearby business Vurley Fencing, says while the development won’t affect his firm, his main concern is for wildlife.
“Because we have two horses at the back and seven sheep, the main concern is that if they are going to have noisy guests and fireworks, it could startle the horses,” he said.
“Our neighbour also has lots of horses, so they could get startled and escape.
“Once people have had a few beers, they could start wandering around, and the traffic will be worse.
“At harvest time there is lots of agricultural traffic and there will be lots of guests and taxis going up and down.
“If we have to live with it we will find a way, we don’t want to fall out with the owners about it.”
Jean Francis added in an objection to DDC: “The people who live here do so because they do not wish to live cheek by jowl with their neighbours, everyone respects each other’s space and summer evenings are peaceful and calm, during which it is possible to hear the birdsong, and have a conversation.
“With a huge party occurring every weekend with loud music and fireworks, this peace would be shattered, never to return.
“There is massive hostility to this locally and the wedding venue owners would have a fight on their hands, not to mention very upset neighbours.”
Opponents of the scheme have also highlighted that there are already five wedding venues within two miles of Ripple Court, and 25 within 10.
But those in support say the plans will provide a much-needed boost to the area, with guests likely to stay at accommodation close by.
Jakub Gajewski said: “As a local employee and someone familiar with the beauty of Ripple Court I’m delighted at the opportunity for newlyweds to celebrate their vows at such an amazing place.
“It’s a great idea for additional income required to run and restore this magnificent property, and let’s not forget additional jobs and revenue streams for local businesses.
“If we have to live with it we will find a way, we don’t want to fall out with the owners about it…”
“This could have been left to rot and decay like many other properties of this grandeur, but due to the vision and drive of owners it will be there to enjoy for many generations.”
Helen Webster added: “I think it is essential to support new business ventures such as this one.
“I fully support the project and I feel confident that it will bring added retail, commerce and tourism to the area.”
Council planning officers have recommended the scheme be approved, believing it will bring economic benefits without causing significant harm to the character of the countryside.
Kent County Council’s highways department has also raised no objection.
The planning committee meeting starts at 6pm tomorrow (Thursday) at the Dover District Council headquarters at the White Cliffs Business Park, Whitfield.
The owners of Ripple Court declined to comment when approached by KentOnline.