A COUPLE who hoped hosting afternoon tea parties and small weddings in their fine old Victorian home would help fund ambitious restoration plans have had their dreams dashed.

Karen Neville and partner Darren Sides bought Hawthorns House on Keresforth Hall Road with a dream of restoring the 146-year-old property.

Some of the money they made from hosting events such as weddings with up to 25 guests and wreath-making classes would have helped fund the plans, securing the future of the building which had been on the market for a decade before the couple bought it.

They applied for permission to host small, weekly events but their application was rejected by the council’s planing board.

Initially, the highways department had expressed concerns over access to the car park at the front of the house but the concerns were eased by deploying a parking marshal.

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Occasional events went ahead for a year but then the couple were served with an order forcing them to stop, following a complaint from a neighbour.

The couple say they are mystified why they can’t use their home for a small-scale business when other properties in the area have been used for similar ventures.

Karen says despite the setback, they won’t give up without a fight, having already invested heavily in making the house habitable again.

And they have been heartened by messages of support from disappointed customers.

But she told the Chronicle she was now worried for the future of the Hawthorns.

She said: “The house and its history are in jeopardy - the financial climate has changed and the mortgage will rise considerably in a few months.

“The arrogance of a number of residents and council members overrides their ability to see what good this could do for the community.

“This house didn’t sell for around a decade - if we have to sell it, we know there are developers interested in buying the property and building a flock of houses in exchange for this beautiful house.

“We just really want to know why other small local businesses are given permission to function on the terms that we have been rejected on.”

A Barnsley Council spokesman said: “In October 2019, our planning and regulatory board refused a planning application that sought to use Hawthorns House as a venue for wedding / civil ceremonies, seasonal events and afternoon teas.

“This was based on highway safety concerns and due to the likely noise and disturbance.

“Ms Neville appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to overturn that decision but her appeal was dismissed.

“Earlier this year, we responded to a complaint that dinner parties / afternoon teas were being held at the property by serving an enforcement notice requiring them to cease.

“Ms Neville appealed this decision again to the Planning Inspectorate but her appeal was recently dismissed.

“The Planning Inspectorate is independent of the council, and on both occasions, it has agreed with our decisions.”