The wedding's definitely off

Long Furlong Farm winds up its events business

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 A wedding venue that became landlocked after a neighbour dispute has decided to wind down its business. 

Earlier this month Long Furlong Farm near Daventry told couples due to be married in the coming months their big days could not go ahead because there was no access to the site.

Neighbour Mike Theaker had last summer purchased a patch of land previously tenanted by Long Furlong Farm’s owners Carmel and Ali Haigh and a dispute had meant access was impossible. A number of residents in the local area had been against the farm running a wedding venue, due to traffic and noise concerns.

The Haigh’s had applied for alternative access but the application has not gone before the planning department as yet.

This week in a statement to NN Journal the couple, who had permission to run the venue, said:

“After creating a venue for our own wedding in 2018 we felt that the location was just too beautiful to not share it with others.  So, like a lot of farmers, we decided that a new business venture would help to support our farm as well as our local rural community - hence the Long Furlong Farm wedding venue was created.

“We never intended for the wedding venue to become such a contentious issue - after all, weddings should be about joy and happiness. Unfortunately the process of getting the business set up has been fraught with red tape and ill will amongst parts of our local community.

“Farming is an incredibly hard business and everyone relies upon the survival of the nation’s farms to feed the country. However most farms can only survive through adaptation and diversification, and we felt that the wedding venue would be an ideal way of supporting our core business.

“We knew that there would be some issues that needed to be overcome in order to set up the venture, but we felt that the systems and support were available to help us do this. Little did we appreciate how complicated and divisive this would be, and the impact that it would have on our health, our families and our neighbours.”

In a statement to NN Journal last week Mr Theaker said he had bought the land as a ‘last resort’ and he and his family were not instigators of the dispute. He said the dispute had been aired online and he had been subject to a ‘hate campaign’.

He said:

“We bought our house from Mr Haigh’s father back in 2009. A specific part of the purchase, proposed and agreed by Mr Haigh Senior, was that all of our land and the access route through the land (to the Haigh’s farm) would be for residential and agricultural use only. This was important to us as we wanted a quiet life in the county and did not want to live next to a wedding venue, let alone a 15,000 capacity festival site. 

“Three years ago Mr Haigh went ahead with his wedding/festival complex in full knowledge of, and breach of this covenant, and at his own risk. We objected and informed him of this at the time and have been negotiating this for two-and-a-half years. We were forced to buy the recent strip of land as a last resort to protect our original covenant agreement as Mr & Mrs Haigh would just not negotiate the position.”

The Haigh’s had last month given the Theakers a number of ways to resolve the dispute, including requesting he pay them £150,000 as compensation to end the business. The Haigh’s said they had decided to end their business this week, without hearing from the Theakers about a financial settlement. The Theakers have been contacted for comment about the decision to end the business.

Read our earlier story here

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