End of the road for motocross track

A land owner in Northumberland has closed down his motocross practice track after his appeal was turned down.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 27th August 2016, 7:50 am
Stephen Hogg will close the motocross track at Causey Park Farm following the appeal decision.
Stephen Hogg will close the motocross track at Causey Park Farm following the appeal decision.

In 2014, Stephen Hogg submitted a retrospective application to change part of the Engine House field at Causey Park Farm to a track, which would be open on Sundays or Wednesdays between April and October, with a maximum of four sessions a month.

He was looking to increase the number of days for the riders from 14 to 28, but the proposal was refused by Northumberland County Council.

A rider during a session at the track.

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Mr Hogg tried again last year and this bid included a full noise assessment. However, it was once again turned down by the local authority.

An appeal was lodged, but it is now the end of the road for the track as this has been rejected.

As a result of the decision, he has to restore the land to its previous state and this will be monitored by the council.

It has been welcomed by objectors, who said the noise was a great nuisance and the landscape had been spoiled by the modifications to make the track, which is located in the green belt.

A rider during a session at the track.

Mr Hogg is disappointed as he argues that the facility was in a relatively hidden location and the noise levels were suitable.

In his report, planning inspector Roger Catchpole said: ‘The proposal has led to a form of development that is not consistent with the characteristic quality of the countryside. As such, the practice track and its access route from the nearby road have reduced openness.

‘I also note the strength of objection from the more distant residents of Earsdon who are situated to the south of the appeal site.

‘This suggests that the sound is reflected and focussed by the surrounding topography of the site in such a way that a wider range of sensitive receptors should have been evaluated.

‘I note the undisputed fact that the existing occupants of the nearest dwellings have not complained about any noise nuisance, as well as the carefully considered letter of support from the occupant of Home House.

‘But whilst the current occupants may not find the noise levels intrusive, this may not be the case for future occupants.

‘Substantial weight must be given to the green belt harm due to the inappropriate nature of the proposed development.

‘On balance, I consider that the factors in favour of the proposal do not clearly outweigh the harm that would be caused to the green belt.’

Mr Hogg, who owns the land at the farm along with his brother Peter, ran motocross at Eshott Heugh for about ten years.

When a caravan site was built next to it, the sessions moved to the track created at Causey Park. They have been taking place for 14 days a year for the last six years.

“The term openness has been used by the inspector, but most people who arrive at the farm don’t realise the track exists – the openness will only be reduced for the people who walk past it,” said Mr Hogg.

“You can hear the bikes on the other side of the A1 when the road is quiet, but not at a significant level, and you can’t hear them when traffic is going past.

“It would be ridiculous to have to restore the land after each session and so I’ve been left with no option but to close the track.

“Although it was run commercially, most of the money we received was spent on the costs of running it. We enjoyed providing a motocross facility for the area and we’ve received many comments from disappointed riders, including a disabled girl who said this was one of the very few tracks that let her on due to her using a small quad bike.”

Maurice McCone, one of the residents against the bid, said: “It’s a shame that we had to go through this process, but we felt that we had to object to the application.

“We are happy to see this disruption stopped. It was a commercial operation which upset many locals for the benefit of outsiders.

“The noise from the bikes sounded like a dozen chainsaws on the go and the comments in support of the application were from people living further away who didn’t have to cope with the noise.

“It was also an abuse of green belt land and we now hope that Mr Hogg restores the land to its original state, as requested by the planning inspector.”