Go-karting track plans for Green Belt land in Staffordshire rejected

Plans for a new go-karting track in the Green Belt have been given the red light by councillors because of concerns about the facility’s impact on the environment and local residents.

Cannock Chase District Council
Cannock Chase District Council

The application for a 1,200m (three quarter mile) track on land north of Wyrley Common and south of the A5 Watling Street at Norton Canes was first put forward in 2015.

Cannock Chase Council’s planning officers recommended permission should be refused because of the facility’s impact on the Green Belt and a Site of Biological Importance, as well as loss of part of an area designated as ‘open access’ common land.

On Wednesday the council’s planning committee backed this recommendation and voted unanimously to reject the plans.

Norton Canes Parish Council member John Bernard spoke in support of the application however at Wednesday’s meeting.

He said: “In Norton Canes the kids, teenagers and young people are always saying there’s nothing to do in the village and have to travel to Lichfield, Wolverhampton, Walsall or Stafford to leisure centres or anything else they wish to participate in.

“We are always pushing mental health and wellbeing and I feel this application is an opportunity for the kids and teenagers to get involved in go-karting which will be right on their doorstep.

"It will be a facility not only for Norton Canes but surrounding areas – we would have visitors coming to the new centre.”

Impact

Christopher Timothy, who also spoke in support of the application, said planning permission had previously been granted for a kart racing site in 2004 after the former Chasewater Karting Club venue had been forced to close to make way for the M6 Toll.

“Kart racing is an outdoor sport and recreational use – it’s deemed appropriate in the Green Belt”, he added.

“It has been found previously appropriate by this authority to develop proposals which provide facilities not present elsewhere in Cannock Chase District and southern Staffordshire.

“The kart track will provide a sporting and recreational facility and encourage participation by all members of the community. They will encourage visits by schools and community organisations.

“It will attract visitors and inward investment to the area and it will help to support local businesses in these hard times.

“The open nature of the course will ensure the open nature of the Green Belt is maintained. The track will not be floodlit – it will only be used in daylight hours and you could have a condition for this.”

But Reba Danson, who lives near the site, raised concerns about the impact on wildlife if the development took place.

She said: “We have seen red kites recently for the first time – it’s the first time these birds have been seen this far north. We have a thriving buzzard population.

“There is a lot of evidence to show noise pollution is most devastating to small rodents and animals. Once you remove that from the food chain everything else goes with it.”

Committee members also spoke of how it would disturb the peace of nearby residents and affect the landscape.

Councillor Paul Witton said: “I feel it will be a blot on the Green Belt. There will be a loss of common land and I can’t think of one good reason we should allow this."

Councillor Zaphne Stretton, who represents the Norton Canes ward, said: “It’s going to be a really bad visual intrusion, apart from the peace, quiet and tranquillity the local community have now.

“I can see more accidents happening because it is going to be a distraction for the motorists round there.”

Councillor Alan Dudson said: “Construction jobs will be created but they will only be temporary. And if the site operates in daylight hours that could be up to 10pm in the summer.

“I’m sure the people living on the boats will hate that noise.”

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