A luxury family estate kept away from the public for decades is set to become a wedding venue from next year – despite a series of objections from neighbors.
The Thanet District Council has authorized the Chapel House Estate, outside Minster, to accommodate 120 guests and provide overnight accommodation.
The main house – the centerpiece of the 25-acre site – dates to 1290 and is Grade II listed.
The new venue will offer wedding packages of up to three days and is expected to launch in spring 2022.
Proposals for the area divided opinion during the formal planning process, with 58 people filing objections against the project and 23 writing in favor.
Despite a number of concerns – including fears about traffic, loss of privacy and a general dislike of the view of the wedding venue – the district council approved the project.
This means the estate will be transformed into a ‘premier wedding destination’, offering a 24-hour chauffeur service to transport guests to where they need to be.
One opponent called the site’s transformation plans “traumatic”, while another commented that the neighborhood is already “inundated with underused event venues”.
Others have voiced fears about the use of fireworks at the site, saying the development would disrupt village life – and lead to “garbage and drunken disorderly behavior”.
The council admits that the project is likely to result in increased noise and disturbance, but considers that the increase “would not be significantly detrimental”.
“When any remaining harm resulting from the proposed development is weighed against the benefits of the proposed development, it is considered outdated,” the planning report says.
Authorization is now granted, a grassed parking lot with 70 spaces will be created.
The estate is expected to offer various locations for wedding ceremonies, ranging from an apple orchard and courtyard to a former grain store.
Couples who are married will be able to spend the night in the main house, and 10 additional guest lodges are to be created.
Jonathan Sawyers, one of the people behind the project, said: “We fell in love with Chapel House as soon as we entered the park.
“Each time we visited the estate, the more opportunities we saw to create a premier wedding venue.
“The vast surface area allows guests to disappear into nature while the buildings near Chapel House will create the perfect space for couples who want their guests to feel truly part of the celebrations.”
Project managers say produce will come from local farms and catering will be overseen by Matt Sworder, the chef and owner of Corner House restaurants in Minster and Canterbury.
Weddings are scheduled to be a year round operation.
Before the request was determined, South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay gave his support to the wedding plan and wrote to the council.
He said: “I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with the project which would provide such a much needed venue that could bring significant new spending and tourism to Thanet.”
Planning documents filed with the application indicate how “lush green enclosures and a tree line surround the property, providing seclusion, privacy and secure space.”
The documents go on to highlight why the scheme was designed.
“The UK wedding industry alone contributes over £ 10 billion – a number that has shown continued growth year on year with the obvious exception of 2020, and yet the appetite for marriage remains healthy as couples plan for what should be something of the busiest years to come, after Covid, “they can read in the newspapers.
“This industry growth is largely due to the trend of two-day weddings, incorporating either an overnight stay, the wedding night, or both.
“With this growing trend, an additional 43% of couples are choosing to hold their wedding for two or more days, which means couples are prioritizing their search for places with a unique selling proposition and / or a destination location, able to accommodate their guests and provide a mini break. “