Monday, April 03, 2017

Campaigning off-road

Marley Hill no motorbikes sign Apr 17

In the southern part of my council ward in Gateshead, an application for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use has been submitted to the Council. The applicant aims to have the land used for 4X4 and motorbike off-road driving.

This is not a normal planning application which seeks permission for a new use or activity on a specified site. Instead, it is an application for the continued use of a site for an activity not previously granted planning permission but where the applicant claims the site has been consistently used for this purpose over the previous 10 years.

The applicant, in this case, is arguing that the land has been used by up to 70 vehicles a day for off-road activity, up to 365 days a year, for the past 10 years.

My ward colleague Councillor Marilynn Ord and I have opposed the application for reasons outlined as follows:

1)As long standing councillors for the area (30 years for me and 19 for Marilynn), we have never come across any incidents of the use of the site by people off-road driving 4X4 vehicles.

2)Use of the site by those engaged in motorbike scrambling has been occasional buy not consistent.

3)Previous owners of the site maintained a policy of no use of the site for off-road use for motorbikes and displayed signs to that effect (at least one of which is still in place - see photo above.)

4)While campaigning against the application for opencast mining on the site in 2014, residents approached us about a number of activities that would be curtained or prevented (eg walking, enjoyment of open spaces, use of bridalways for horse riding etc) if it were granted. At no point did anyone raise with us the impact on off-road driving activities.

Marilynn and I have written to residents of Marley Hill and Byermoor about the application and we delivered the letters this afternoon. We don't know yet the date of the committee which will consider it but we'll let residents know once it has been set.

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