THE boss of a venue which has been banned from holding events has accused the council of trying to “destroy” his “unique business”, describing the move as a “cynical attack on Coggeshall’s economy". 

Michael Staines, 53, is the owner of Stock Street Farm Barn, in Coggeshall, having taking over the reigns of the site 15 years ago.

The popular venue was recently issued a ban on hosting events after its appeal against a 2022 council enforcement notice was rejected.

The reason for the ban stems from a long-running planning feud between the venue, which can be used for wedding, and Braintree Council.

Braintree and Witham Times: Owner - Michael Staines outside the Stock Street Farm BarnOwner - Michael Staines outside the Stock Street Farm Barn (Image: Public)

An original planning application was received by the council in 2017, asking that the venue be permitted to be used for entertainment and event usages,

The plans, however, were rejected, with council bosses raising concerns over how activity on the site could cause harm to heritage assets. There were also worries over highway safety and on-site parking for events.

Over the years, a large petition has obtained more than 3,000 signatures in support of the venue.

Now, after the dismissal of the appeal and issuing of the ban, the venue must comply with the enforcement notice by ceasing the use of activity and car parking within two months.

Michael took to the Stock Street Farm Barn’s Facebook page to issue a statement on the situation.

Braintree and Witham Times: Location - a Google Maps image of Stock Street Farm BarnLocation - a Google Maps image of Stock Street Farm Barn

He said: “Stock Street Farm Barn has operated under a Premises License renewed annually from Braintree District council without complaint or incident since 2016.

“Our unique independent rural leisure business will be destroyed by the discretionary actions and choices of the Planning and Enforcement teams of Braintree District Council.

“Even as they approve and support schemes which encourage more and heavier traffic through the district and 1,000’s of new houses all before the capacity of the A120 is improved.

Braintree and Witham Times: Venue - Stock Street Farm BarnVenue - Stock Street Farm Barn (Image: Google Maps)

“Stock Street Farm Barn is not the problem here. 

“Residents will quickly see through this cynical attack on Coggeshall’s economy, social cohesion and rural character and question why our tiny business has been targeted for forced closure.”

Bosses at Braintree Council have now responded. 

A spokesman said: “We know how valued this business is within the local community and all they do to benefit our local economy.

"However two independent planning inspectors have agreed that these benefits do not outweigh the harms in terms of heritage and highway safety.

“Planning matters relating to this site date back to 2016 and during that time we have had numerous discussions with the owner of the business.

"Alongside National Highways, we considered whether conditions could mitigate the heritage and highway safety impacts of the development as part of the original planning application.

"But it was concluded that conditions wouldn’t be able to make the development acceptable in planning terms and should be refused.

"The business owner has also had two opportunities to independently challenge our planning position and they have not been successful on either appeal.

“Unfortunately, the business has been operating entirely without planning consent for over 8 years and we have been clear in our position since we determined the original planning application in 2017.

"The council has therefore had no choice but to take enforcement action in April 2022 based on planning merits, as the local planning authority, with the applicant continuing to operate an unauthorised use.

"In full knowledge that the development was unacceptable on heritage and highway safety grounds.

"This was supported by two independent planning inspectors, and in the most recent appeal decision the planning inspector acknowledged the heritage harm and serious highway safety issues".