Bid to host events in basement of 18th-century mansion lodged
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Owners of a country mansion are hoping plans to host live music and other events from its basement will help it recover from a "financial disaster" of a year.
Kimberley Hall, which was built in 1712 and overlooks the River Tiffey valley, near Wymondham, is a private family home bought by war veteran and former Conservative MP Ronald Buxton in 1958.
Mr Buxton died, aged 93, in 2017, though members of his family still live at the hall, which has for almost 20 years been a hireable wedding venue.
His son, Robert Buxton, has now applied to extend the area licenced for hire at the hall to include the basement level.
Those who run the events venue wish to turn the hall's basement into function rooms with seating, a cinema room, a bar and dance floor, a snooker room and possibly a gym, creating a space which "would certainly be unique to the region".
In a covering letter submitted along with the application, Mr Buxton said the increase in licenced wedding venues in Norfolk has led to a 50pc decline in bookings since 2012, adding that creating this new hireable space would help the venue to "compete nationally as well as locally".
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He said: "2020 was a financial disaster for us and others in the hospitality sector with virtually no income. 2021 doesn't look much better, despite the PM's announcement on February 22 outlining the roadmap to freedom.
"We therefore feel that, by adding our cellars to existing facilities, Kimberley will have a diversity of spaces that no other venue in Norfolk can offer."
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Mr Buxton stressed the new spaces "would only be available on a private hire basis and not as a walk-in venue", and that potential hirers would be "strictly vetted", and events carefully managed".
He added: "We are always extremely circumspect as to whom we rent our home and refuse numerous enquiries each year deemed to be unsuitable."
At a Wymondham Town Council planning meeting held over Zoom on Tuesday, April 6, members voted unanimously to support the licensing bid, which will be determined by South Norfolk Council in due course.