Kirkstall Abbey has been granted an events and alcohol licence despite fears from locals that it could turn the historic site into a “theme park”, writes David Spereall.
Leeds City Council, who run the abbey and its grounds, have been given year-round permission to stage plays, organised dancing, film exhibitions and play music between the hours of 7am and 11pm.
Alcohol can now also be served there every day between 11am and midnight.
But the local authority says that the licences will not be used every day and they are only looking to put on around 30 special events a year.
Despite objections from neighbours of the 900 year-old monastery, including one from a resident who said living close to it would become “unbearable”, councillors approved the application.
Coun Gerald Wilkinson, who sits on the licensing sub-committee, said after the meeting:
“We felt that there weren’t any extenuating circumstances which would prevent us from allowing the application.
“There’s only going to be one event every couple of weeks and most of them will not finish too late. Most of them will be completed by 9pm.
“We felt it shouldn’t be too much of an imposition on the local residents.”
The abbey, which was founded in 1152, already hosts the annual Kirkstall Festival, as well as a handful of other children’s events during the year.
Tabling their objection to the licence before it was approved, one nearby resident said:
“We cannot have doors or windows open and can still hear them, nor can we sit peacefully in the garden.
“As this type of event only occurs once or twice a year we put up with it but for it to happen on a more regular basis will be unbearable.
“Drunks shouting and screaming as they walk home and litter dropping – plus, on one occasion we caught someone urinating against the hedge in our drive, causing stains, who then got into the car at the side of the drive.”
“What is being proposed is truly a nightmare – almost turning the abbey into a theme park.”
Leeds City Council has been contacted for comment.
UPDATE: A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:
“Applying for the license for Kirkstall Abbey is more of an administrative task rather than seeking to change what we can do there on a day to day basis. We are not planning on increasing the amount of events taking place in the abbey nor will we be changing the nature of the events, which tend to be family orientated. We will continue hosting our monthly deli markets, theatre and film showings, as well as hosting events for local community groups.”