Plans for a micro-distillery producing spirits in small quantities in a Kentish village are set to be approved despite objections from locals.

Pleasant Land Distillery’s proposal would see an agricultural storage building at a vineyard in East Brabourne, near Ashford, house a facility for making fruit spirits and grain whiskey from winemaking by-products.

Charles Barnick (left) and his son Seb Barnick plan to open Pleasant Land Distillery in East Brabourne

Several objections to the plans have been raised by neighbours, who believe it is inappropriate for the Magnum Building in The Street to be converted in this way. This led to the application being withdrawn and resubmitted after further consultation.

Ashford Borough Council (ABC) received 55 comments opposing the change in use of the site, with just five letters of support.

One of those supporting the distillery is entrepreneur Josh De Haan, whose business empire includes the Rocksalt restaurant in Folkestone and a string of pubs in east Kent, including the Five Bells Inn in East Brabourne.

“As the owner/operator of Five Bells Pub, but also a local resident, I want to register my full support for this app,” he wrote.

“Having a small-scale distillery in the village will help support the rural community, not only for job creation, but also for local farmers.”

“We will create a traditional, circular rural economy with a naturally low carbon footprint…”

Neighbors consulted on the plans fear the negative impact of lighting, noise and traffic on the site, and there are concerns about the distillery’s aspirations for future business growth.

The application is due to be presented to the ABC’s planning committee on Wednesday, August 17, and the officers’ report recommends that permission be granted.

It states: “The request causes insufficient planning harm to warrant a recommendation to deny permission and, therefore, conditional approval is recommended.”

The project is the work of father-son team Charles and Seb Barnick, who plan to use local produce in the production of their drinks.

Speaking in November when the final plans were revealed, Seb said: “We are proud to announce our bid for a micro-distillery, producing single grain whiskey from local traditional grain varieties such as wheat Old Kent Red.

Location of the proposed distillery
Location of the proposed distillery

“We will use cereals from neighboring farms and the spent grains will be used by local farmers for animal feed. In this way we will create a traditional and circular rural economy with a naturally low carbon footprint.

“We also intend to release limited volumes of fruit spirits from ancient Kent fruit and a small batch of gin.

“Our longer-term vision is to finish our whiskey in the barrels used to refine local fruit spirits.”

The change of use application says it is expected the plant could have a permanent staff of five by 2023, with operating hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.