PLANS for a “high-end gourmet food festival” that has been compared to Boomtown have come under fire as thousands are envisioned to descend on a proposed rural setting near Alresford.

A bid has been lodged to create a three-day affair at The Grange in Northington, with organisers suggesting that almost 20,000 people are expected to attend as the event grows.

Organisers Brand Events have said that it will be the “ultimate foodie escape”, with camping offered on site.

The proposal states: “Brand Events are planning a brand-new addition to the British food festival scene. The event will be a high-end gourmet food festival where guests will stay the weekend with us to enjoy a selection of immersive and memorable dining options.

“We will be creating a line up of the nation’s most-loved chefs who will put together an array of banquets, feasts and immersive dining experiences.”

Alongside the eating there will be activities such as cooking classes, foraging, food talks, Q&A’s, chef demonstrations and interactive skills classes.

As part of the application Brand Events has “live music will be provided on a main stage and potentially at other smaller venues on the event site”, with the performances planned to end at 11pm.

The notion has drawn criticism from those living close to the 19th Century country house mansion, along with city councillors, questioning whether it is “a food festival with music or a music festival with food” with the potential to change into something more intrusive.

Cllr Jackie Porter, councillor for The Worthys, said: “This festival will directly precede the Boomtown festival to be held just a few miles away. How will organisers ensure that the two audiences are not the same, with informal camping etc creating a merge into one? I realise this is unlikely but raves often take place in the area near here during the summer: can the organisers reassure the public that the two events at Boomtown and The Grange will not unofficially merge?”

Cllr Porter added: “This area is extremely tranquil, and the tranquillity will be disturbed for several nights, creating public nuisance, and health harms.”

And Northington resident Lucy Williams said: “Hidden behind the application for a food festival is the license to have music on multiple stages. If approval were to be given I believe this will turn into an event dominated by music as opposed to food. Since we can hear Boomtown from our house (when the weather conditions are right) which is eight miles away, I am certain music at the Grange will be audible to everyone one in the village and its surroundings at all times.”

Others have expressed concerns over the likely increase in traffic through the rural area.

Steve and Carolyn Richards, from Swarraton, said: “The influx of up to 20,000 attendees, plus staff, suggests c.10,000 cars arriving and departing over the weekend. This will place an unprecedented load on inadequate local roads and make it very dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders to make normal use of the roads. Many of the attendees are likely to be unfamiliar with narrow rural roads and their risks.”

The application will now go before Winchester City Council’s licensing sub-committee on Monday.

If given the go-ahead the licence will cover no more than three days a year, likely to be in July or August.

Each year the venue hosts The Grange Festival which features live outside entertainment and activities for all age.

Brand Events were contacted for a comment but did not respond by the time the Chronicle went to print.