A new planning application has been submitted for a site next to the Cheesefoot Head beauty spot in the South Downs east of Winchester which seeks to set new conditions on an existing permission granted by a planning inspector in 2010. These new conditions would give maximum flexibility to have Motocross events at any time of the year. Currently events are restricted to certain times of the year.
We encourage everyone to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before 31st January 2023, quoting SDNP/22/05968/CND, asking SDNPA to impose conditions to restrict the two weekend events to dates between 1st August – 15th October, with hours of operation from 0900-1700 with an attendance limit of 6,000 people in order to minimise adverse ecological impacts, and nuisance for local communities and users of the South Downs Way.
Details of the application can be seen by going to https://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/ and entering SDNP/22/05968/CND in the search box.
Following our success late last year when Boomtown withdrew their planning application after it became clear that the planning officers in SDNPA had decided to recommend refusal, there is a new opportunity to improve things in the western end of the National Park.
There is a Motocross track on Matterley Farm, near Winchester, which was constructed without planning permission in about 2006, before the creation of the National Park. A retrospective planning application for retention of the track was submitted to Winchester City Council in 2008. This was refused and the farmer subsequently appealed this decision. The Secretary of State appointed a planning inspector who decided in 2010 to allow the appeal and, in doing so, set three conditions.
These conditions included allowing three days of use per year for no more than two weekend events between 1st August and 15th October and for racing and practice to be restricted to between 0900 and 1700. The date range was intended to minimise adverse impact on Skylarks which nest on the ground. There was no limit on the number of people who could attend and no noise limits. After SDNPA came into existence, also in 2010, several planning applications were made to vary the dates and to extend the times of operation. These were generally approved by SDNPA on a temporary basis in the course of which an attendance limit of 30,000 was imposed.
The current situation is that all of the temporary approvals have now expired meaning that the only conditions which exist are those set by the planning inspector in 2010. The landowner has now submitted an application to SDNPA which seeks to set new conditions which would give him maximum flexibility to have Motocross events at any time of the year, use of the track between 0800 – 1830 (a 30% increase) and with no attendance limit and no restriction on how much of the farm can be used for camping, car parking, entertainment, etc.. The application number is SDNP/22/05968/CND which may be viewed on the SDNPA planning website.
The decision to allow the track to continue to be used cannot be reversed. However, public pressure can be brought to bear on SDNPA to take this opportunity to exert proper control over Motocross which the planning inspector said in 2010 was a “noisy sport”. The track can be seen from the South Downs Way. The application claims that the effects on climate change, pollution and the ecosystem are “largely neutral” based on a typical attendance of 6,000. This implies that a larger attendance than 6,000 would cause adverse impacts but no details have been provided. An experienced local ornithologist considers that the inspector was correct to restrict these events to dates between 1st August – 15th October in order to protect ground-nesting birds and other species of wildlife.