MORE people will be able to enjoy events at Highclere Castle after the borough council approved an application to increase the numbers allowed on site.

Highclere Estates LLP applied to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in June for permission to increase the capacity for two large outdoor events from 9,999 to 14,999.

However, the number of large outdoor events held each year at the castle for between 5,000 and 9,999 people will now be limited to six. The estate was previously allowed to hold an unlimited number of events for between 5,000 and 9,999 people.

The owners of the castle, which is used as the set of popular ITV drama Downton Abbey, also applied for permission to extend the times that performances and films can be shown, from between 10am and 11.30pm.

Performances and films could previously run from 5pm to 11.30pm.

Recorded and live music can now be played between 10am and midnight, whereas before, recorded music could run between 2pm and 11.30pm, and live music from 3pm to 11.30pm.

Alcohol can now be sold from 9am to midnight, an increase from 11am to midnight.

Permission to open the venue at 7am was also granted, compared to the current opening time of 8am.

The estate also requested that on special occasions permission be given to allow the premises and outdoor areas to be open until 3am and live and recorded music to be played until 2am.

Michelle Di Gioia, a solicitor representing the estate, told the licensing sub-committee meeting on July 28: “As we all have heard, there have been no representation from any of the responsible authorities and there are only two outstanding objections from local residents relating to the issue of public nuisance.

“Given there are only two objectors, I would say this demonstrates that if Highclere Castle was a public nuisance, there would have been more objectors here today.”

Local resident Michael Rutter, who objected to the licence, told the meeting: “During the summer it is going to get hot and in the marquee, the walls are going to be open to let the air in so I think the playing of music until 2am is potentially a public nuisance.”

But the borough council’s licensing sub-committee, which was made up of Conservative councillors Diane Taylor and Rita Burgess and Labour councillor Tony Jones, gave the go-ahead to the licence.

A number of conditions were imposed on Highclere Estates LLP.

Chair of the sub-committee and Oakley and North Waltham councillor, Diane Taylor told the meeting that the castle could only host two large events for 9,999 to 14,999 people and six large outdoor events for 5,000 to 9,999 people.

An event safety management plan and CCTV cameras at the Winchester Gate entrance will need to be implemented by the owners, and training on the sale of alcohol will need to be provided for anyone working at events held at the castle.