DOUBTS have been cast over a pop-up gourmet pub experience, due to take place on The Heath later this year.

Brand Events has been granted a Cheshire East Council licence to operate Pub in the Park hosted by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge in Knutsford in September, but residents involved in a debate over the common land status of The Heath say the event in its current guise could be deemed illegal.

Guidance from Natural England – the Government’s environmental agency – says that putting a fence, charging entry fees or similarly restricting access to common land would be in breach of legislation.

But The Tatton Estate say the debate over The Heath's status is a closed case, and that the event will not bring up any issues.

Rosie Littler at TEM Group said: We are thrilled to see so many people sharing the excitement for this very 'Knutsford' event with comments and early interest in tickets, and support in licensing by the borough and town councils and Friends of the Heath.

"We are saddened that a loud minority are trying to spoil the event and attempt to reopen a legal debate of The Heath’s status which confirmed definitively that the Heath is privately owned land, with two 'freeholders' having a 'right of common' of 'digging for and getting clay and sand to be used in the rebuilding or reparation of any ancient buildings erected', specifically 94 and 96 King Street."

Click here to see the Tatton Estate's response in full.

Town councillors agreed at a meeting on Monday that the space – owned by the Tatton Estate but registered as common land – must be protected against such events, and are set to seek legal advice.

In order for the event to go ahead as planned over three days, Brand Events would also require a town council market licence and – if Natural England’s advice is correct – permission from the planning inspector.

Cllr Stewart Gardiner, who opposed the event through his role on the CEC licensing committee, said: “I don’t believe that this sort of event should be held in these areas of open space used for informal activity. It’s a play area used for community events.”

Previously, ahead of the licensing committee’s decision, the council entered no support or objection.

Councillors agreed to seek legal advice before taking a stance.

Pub in the Park is set for Knutsford from September 7 to 9, the last of four events across England.