Geffrye Museum's bid for late licence prompts fury after 'deafening' wine festival

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A museum’s application to sell alcohol seven days a week has triggered a backlash from neighbours who claim rowdy noise from a wine festival left them “deeply disturbed”.

The Grade I listed Geffrye Museum in Hackney has submitted a bid for the licence to serve alcohol from 10am to 10.30pm Monday to Sunday.

But residents living nearby have complained a ‘celebration of rosé’ event held there last month was unruly and shows the museum should not be given the permit.

“Frankly, if such a din is allowed to occur only weeks before the licence hearing, it does not bode well for the Geffrye being willing and able to keep noise levels reasonable in the future,” said one of seven residents to object to the application.

Neighbours also reported that when they complained during the wine festival to staff, no representative from the museum was on hand to deal with it.

Ahead of the Licence Committee hearing on Thursday that will decide on the bid, one resident branded behaviour at the three-day event “careless and unneighbourly”.

Leafy: The Museum plans to screen films in its outdoor spaces

The museum had obtained a temporary event notice for the wine festival from July 21 to 23 and neighbours understood that “background music” would be played at the party, which attracted more than 3,500 people. 

But angry residents wrote that in reality the noise from live jazz music and DJs was “deafening and obtrusive”, and that additional events in August had also been disturbing.

“I personally complained about the volume three times,” wrote the neighbour, adding: “I chose my home here because it is residential and would never have purchased a property next door to an outside events space.”

Another said: “We have lived in harmony with the Geffrye Museum for many years and I was deeply troubled by the noise that was audible from our garden and in our homes even with all the doors and windows closed.”

The museum is currently in the midst of an £18 million overhaul, developing its buildings to “safeguard the museum for future generations”.

To help fund the development, it plans a programme of indoor and outdoor events and exhibitions, each projected to attract hundreds of guests.

It currently holds a licence to serve alcohol in its restaurant, but the new application would expand permission to the whole site including the lawn.

“A number of events have been trialled at the museum over the last two years as part of an Arts Council funded initiative to improve the museums financial resilience,” the museum said in its application for a premises license. 

“This funding has now come to an end and it is time to put the programme into action to create a sustainable future for the museum.” 

It has applied for permission to show films in its outdoor areas, although a representative of the Geffrye wrote that the sound would be played through wireless headphones, not blare through speakers.

The Museum will close from January 2018 for development works to take place, to reopen in late 2019, but events are still planned in “alternative indoor and outdoor spaces of the museum”.

A spokeswoman for the Geffrye said the application was aimed at increasing access to the museum.

She said: “The programme of events and activities will be carefully planned to be appropriate for the museum, and be safe and enjoyable for everyone who takes part.

“We are responsible neighbours and will always consider any feedback from local residents and businesses.”

The Rose Festival organisers have been contacted by the Standard for comment.

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