DC Casebook: Leisure and entertainment - Motocross ruled out in quiet rural area

An enforcement notice directed against a motocross circuit in the metropolitan green belt has been upheld after an inspector found that it seriously erodes the attractiveness of the Dartford marshes as a place for quiet enjoyment and diminishes the quality of an increasingly rare resource in London.

The inspector accepted that motocross could be considered an outdoor sport or recreation but held that the assessment of whether it is appropriate in the green belt depends on the circumstances of each case. He was satisfied that the engineering works to create the track and associated fencing had little impact on the open character of the land. He ruled that the development did not conflict with any of the purposes of including land in the green belt and was therefore appropriate development.

He recognised that residents had not experienced any serious nuisance from motorbike noise, although there was clearly some disturbance to walkers using a public footpath. In respect of the local ecology, he acknowledged that the use was an intrusive activity and caused some disturbance to wildlife. However, he concluded that it did not materially harm the site's nature conservation value as part of a proposed local nature reserve.

The inspector also considered that extensive remodelling of the land to create jumps and other features had caused little harm to the appearance of the landscape. However, he judged that intensive use of the site by up to 70 riders had resulted in a marked change to the character of the area and agreed that this activity might well harm the enjoyment of those engaged in quieter rural pursuits. He decided that this was inconsistent with the aims of local policies to safeguard the marshes for quiet recreational and wildlife conservation purposes.

DCS Number 100-058-412

Inspector Sean Slack; Inquiry.

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