Objections to ‘adult’ sessions at centre

RESIDENTS in a small Suffolk parish have objected to the “adult” content of some sessions being held at a private rural retreat.

A number of people have complained about the “sexual nature” of some events held at Bullocks Ley, a venue near the village of Burgate for use by residential groups.

The owners of the site have applied to Mid Suffolk District Council for retrospective planning permission to continue using the barn complex as a residential conference and training centre for another two years, as well as creating extra car parking space and moving access gates.

But due to the “controversial” nature of the application, it has been referred to the council’s planning control committee, which will discuss the proposal at a meeting next Wednesday.

The Bullocks Ley website describes the centre as a place “created to provide a space that fosters openness and empathy and facilitates healing” and that it offers “sanctuary from the everyday world”.

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It is a barn conversion with space to accommodate 36 people overnight and has a large main hall, kitchen area, dining hall and office space.

The website continues: “The space itself is relaxed, light and airy: a place where you breathe easily. It is a warm and welcoming home from home where you can share with others, working towards your goals in a safe and supportive environment.

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“Bullocks Ley is offered as an oasis of calm and nourishment that is the perfect setting for your group’s activities and events.”

But several people have written to the council with their concerns over the “adult” content of the activities going on there, claiming that some events are “unsuitable”.

These matters have been looked into by planning officials who came to the conclusion that such “sexual” sessions should not be seen as any different from others taking place at Bullocks Ley.

In a report to the committee, the officers said: “Events such as those providing education in intimacy and sexuality awareness are clearly of an adult nature, however in your officers’ opinion there is no reason why those events should be distinguishable from any others being held at Bullocks Ley.

“The receipt of objections in respect of the nature of some events as ‘unsuitable’ may be understandable and the concerns expressed in this respect may be genuinely and deeply held, however they appear to reflect an underlying psyche towards matters of a sexual nature rather than identifying any specific outcome directly related to the nature of the event being held.

“In the absence of any land use or amenity impact directly related to events it is not for the planning system to assess their merit or ‘suitability’.”

The officers recommend that the application be turned down as it would not provide “sufficient benefit” to the local rural community to outweigh the harm it would cause to the character or appearance of the area.

The report continues: “Having regard to all the matters detailed above, your officers are of the opinion that the proposal is contrary to local policies and national objectives regarding the character and appearance of the area, to the objectives of sustainable development and potentially detrimental to the viability of local community facilities.”

The matter will now be decided at the meeting of the planning control committee on Wednesday morning at Mid Suffolk District Council’s offices in Needham Market.

Last night the Bullocks Ley team was unavailable for comment.

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