Plans for an open air cinema in Tring are backed by councillors

The coronavirus pandemic meant that the usual Chilfest music festival could not go ahead this year

Friday, 31st July 2020, 12:44 pm
Updated Friday, 31st July 2020, 12:47 pm

Plans for an open-air cinema in Tring – run by organisers of Chilfest – have been given the go-ahead by councillors.

Chilfest outdoor cinema has been operating at the weekends on Pendley Activity Meadow, on Cow Lane, since July.

And now a meeting of Dacorum Borough Council’s licensing of alcohol and gambling sub-committee has given permission for it to continue until September 20 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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Chilfest outdoor cinema has been operating at the weekends on Pendley Activity Meadow, on Cow Lane, since July

Applicant Steve Butcher – from Universal Event Productions Limited – told councillors that the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the usual Chilfest music festival could not go ahead on the site this year.

So, he said, they developed the plans for the outdoor cinema, as something that would work for the community and would enable staff to work.

As part of the ‘immersive’ experience those arriving at the site on foot can watch the movie from deck chairs at the front – with those in cars parked behind.

And all will listen to the films using special headphones – that organisers say will be cleaned between every showing.

Mr Butcher stressed that the ‘silent’ cinema was a “very different beast” to Chilfest – which attracts up to 9000 people.

And he said that the outdoor cinema would be a smaller, quieter event, attracting around 400 people.

In July the events have been operating under a series of ‘temporary event notices’.

And event safety advisor Wes Pierce told the committee there had been no complaints, security incidents or First Aid required.

At the hearing licensing officer Nathan March told the committee there had been 14 objections to the application – but three had been withdrawn before the meeting.

Concerns had focussed on noise, traffic and parking. Other concerns raised – such as potential behaviour of revellers after they had left the site and possible drunkenness – were deemed not to be relevant to the application.

At the meeting local resident Mr Tony Hill, told the committee that he was pleased with the changes made during the application process.

And he said that assuming the event continues to be run with headphones, that access by cars is by Station Road and that the number of events per week was limited he would be happy,

In addition Mr John Payne – a lawyer acting for another resident – told the committee that the resident had been alarmed by the application because of problems he had experienced with Chilfest.

He said that with the amendments that had been put forward he was in a position to withdraw the representation.

But he suggested the changes were put into a number of formal conditions by the committee.

Addressing concerns that had been raised in advance of the hearing, the applicants told the committee there was ample room on the site – and no reason for anyone to have to park anywhere else. And they highlighted the move towards headsets, rather than speakers.

The committee heard that the headphones used would not be disposable but would be cleaned each day by staff wearing masks and gloves- with the option for customers to clean them themselves too.

At the end of each showing the headphones would be left in ‘bins’ by customers, where they would stay overnight before being cleaned.

Customers could not use their own headsets, councillors heard, because they would not be compatible with the system.

The decision notice – published on the same day as the hearing – records that the sub-committee unanimously agreed to grant the application

The licence allows for the playing of films and recorded music and the supply of alcohol on Friday to Sunday – between 12noon to 22.30 – until September 20 this year (2020).

It does so on condition that stewards or marshals are used to ensure that guests leave the ‘premises’ in a way that does not cause unreasonable disruption or nuisance to nearby residents.