CONTROVERSIAL plans for a food festival in a rural setting near Alresford has been given the green light – to the dismay of neighbouring residents.

A bid to bring the three-day event, coined Chefstock, to The Grange in Northington was approved despite drawing criticism.

A meeting of Winchester City Council’s licensing sub-committee heard from both sides of the argument.

Director of Brand Events, the company behind the scheme, Neill Levene said that the company as a “great deal of respect for the venue and the local residents.”

He said: “If an event is popular we look to come back, we are not in the business of putting on an event and disappearing.”

The company has previously organised The Pub in Park events which are the brainchild of Tom Kerridge.

Mr Levene added: “These are held in towns with attendance of 4,000 to 5,000 people who come and enjoy good food, live music, camping and living food demonstrations. From that we’ve identified an opportunity to run a national event targeting that audience.

“We consider that the audience we are attracting is a discerning audience,” and Mr Levine was keen to state that the festival would not be comparable to Boomtown.

However, fears were raised about the amount of noise that could be emitted from the festival.

Cllr Jackie Porter, county council member for Itchen Valley, said: “It is amazing how far noise travels and with Boomtown potentially being in the same month…it will have an impact on their [residents] health.”

But Mr Levene aired in response: “I think we have identified at least three locations where the stage could go, in each one of those the stage direction would be playing into The Grange, into the house. It is quite a considerable distance from where the stage would be to the nearest house.”

Much of the meeting was focused around the amount of traffic that could be generated from the event.

It is predicted that 12,000 people could be at the site throughout the weekend during the first event, but the organisers said that this would include staff, traders and performers, not just ticket holders.

And neighbouring resident Steve Richards, of Swarraton, said that the festival will bring “unprecedented volumes of traffic that we have never seen in the village”.

He added: “All the roads in the village are narrow and some of them are in a very poor condition. Most of the roads are 60 limit and have no footway or verges where pedestrians can step out of the way of oncoming traffic.”

Despite the notions members said that traffic concerns were not part of their remit and approved the licence, with conditions including limiting the time for recorded music and instigating a community stakeholders meeting to discuss the event.

Speaking after the meeting, chairman of Northington Parish Council, John Mitchell said: “We are disappointed in the news that there was no change in the numbers, however, we are looking forward to having meeting on a community basis.”

The event has been branded as the “ultimate foodie escape”, with activities such as cooking classes, foraging, food talks, Q&A’s and chef demonstrations.