Council move on racetrack

By Mark Elson in Local People

OWNERS of farmland near Yorkley where a motorcycle racetrack has been operating without planning permission have been given two months to put in an application for the Forest Council to consider.

At a marathon meeting yesterday afternoon, the council’s planning committee was weighing up a recommendation that enforcement action should be taken to stop the land at Yorkley Court Farm being used as a track.

Action was also being taken by the council over work carried out on the Grade II-listed farmhouse, the construction of an enclosed yard for storing construction vehicles and equipment, and construction of a fence and stopping access with the use of concrete blocks.

The council’s planning committee was told there had been many complaints about the two racetracks which have been constructed in open fields.

The owners say the operator is a national figure in motorsport and the track is to give young people somewhere safe “remote from buildings” to practise the sport.

Agricultural land can be used for racing for a maximum of 14 days in any calendar year and when owners were asked at the beginning of June how many times it had been used since the start of the year, they said three.

The owners say the land was not agricultural, with one of the tracks being on a former opencast site and the other was a kennel and dog training venue.

A report to the committee by planning officers stated: “From evidence which has been gathered so far, it is clear that the number of occasions on which the land has been used for motorcycle racing significantly exceeds the permitted number of 14 days.”

In relation to the works on the farmhouse, officers reported that extensive alterations had been made internally and externally – by the owners and possibly by the occupiers who had been on the land previously – with the loss of some historic fabric.

The committee agreed that the owners should submit a schedule of remedial works for the complex up to a value of ?100,000 and that if the list of works cannot be agreed with the owners, it will be referred to an independent surveyor.

The changes are “so extensive and damaging” to the listed building that if a “retrospective” application was made to keep them, officers would not be able to support it.

It was also considered that allowing the builders’ yard to remain would cause “further detrimental harm to the rural character and appearance of the area.

The owners face having to cease using the land as a yard, demolish the whole fence and and remove the hardstanding, builders’ materials, mobile home and temporary toilets within 15 months.

The council also received a complaint that a large section of hedgerow adjacent to Lydney Road had been removed and replaced with a fence.

Officers say that while it is acceptable that the site should be secured, a more suitably designed fence in keeping with the rural surroundings is needed.

The owners have been given a month to submit a planning application for a fence.

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