Casebook: Appeal cases - Leisure and entertainment - Extension of motor sport activity turned down

An enforcement notice directed against the construction of a motocross course in an area of special landscape interest in Shropshire has been upheld on the grounds that it would harm the countryside, residents' and visitors' amenity and highway safety.

The parties accepted that the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) 1995 permits the use of land for car or motorcycle racing for no more than 14 days in any calendar year. The appellants' fallback position was that a further 14 days was also available for any other aspect of the use that did not involve motor racing or practising.

The inspector found nothing about the site that mitigated the impact of the motocross use. He concluded that noise disturbance was experienced over a wide area and observed that the circuit had created a highly visible and ugly scar on a hillside in an area of very attractive rolling countryside.

He also noted localised problems relating to dust and traffic and poor visibility for drivers leaving the site.

He considered that the GPDO provisions for temporary uses of land strike a reasonable balance between the need to protect the countryside, its quiet enjoyment by those who visit or work there and its use for recreational and sporting activities that cannot be realistically accommodated in urban areas. Unless it could be demonstrated that the characteristics of a particular site were such that any adverse impact of motor sports could be absorbed, he ruled, the 14-day restriction for such potentially very noisy activities was fully justified.

The inspector accepted that the site was well suited to motocross riders because of its topography and the variety of natural obstacles that it contained. However, he considered that its harmful impact on an area of very attractive countryside, the noise and disturbance caused and the poor visibility at the point of access made it a very bad site from any other point of view.

He therefore found no justification for permitting development that would extend the period that the site might be used for motocross events. This would compromise the ability of the land to recover from the erosion caused and might encourage or intensify its use for such events even if they were being held lawfully within the provisions of the GPDO, he remarked.

DCS No: 52579806; Inspector: David Pinner; Written representations.

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