Derbyshire Property Talk - March 2008

PUBLISHED: 14:02 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 20 February 2013

Jonathan Jenkin

Jonathan Jenkin

Jonathan Jenkin, Managing Director of The Planning and Design Practice Ltd in Derby's Vernon Gate, discusses some property issues ...

Q:Our new neighbours run a small-holding of about 20 acres. Mr W and his two sons are into off-road motorbike scrambling and Mr W runs a local club. They have set up a motorbike scrambling circuit in a field and adjoining woodland near to us and every weekend last summer our peace was broken by the sound of their motorbikes.
I've approached Mr W and he has said that he has a right to use the land for motorbike scrambling for up to 28 days a year without planning permission. He has also said that once the limit is reached he will move the activity to another part of his land to remain under the 28-day limit.
We are keeping a log and last summer the site was used 15 times. The noise of the motor bikes is seriously affecting us, destroying the tranquillity of our home and garden. Is he right and what can we do? As neighbours we are in a very difficult position.
Mr and Mrs Pike, Derbyshire

A:The planning system allows any person to use land for a wide range of uses or purposes that are temporary without planning consent. This allows fetes, fairs, rallies, weddings and all manner of other activities to take place. To control such activities would be overly bureaucratic and would not serve the local community. Land can normally be used for up to 28 days in any calendar year.
Under Class B Part 4 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995 motorbike trials and practising for these activities is subject to a 14-day limitation. This means that under the planning system 14 Sundays in the summer could be used by your neighbours for racing their bikes and practising for events. There is an exception that prevents motor sports from using Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the woodland is such a designated site. Your neighbours have a responsibility to protect the SSSI and sanctions against them can be brought over the damage caused to the Site.
I've passed the information on to Natural England who will take the case forward with Mr W and the source of the complaint will not be revealed. Mr W can continue with the trial bikes away from the woodland so this does not solve your problem. Your potential legal remedy is through environmental health legislation because noise is a statutory nuisance. You will need to contact the Council's Environmental Health Department, who can organise the taking of noise readings on your property as part of a case against your neighbours. Because your house is in a quiet rural location background noise levels are very low so the noise of the motor bikes is particularly noticeable. This factor will be taken into account by Environmental Health.

Jonathan Jenkin BA(Hons) BTP MRTPI
is a Chartered Town Planner with more than 24 years' experience in town and country planning, both in local government and as a planning consultant. Call him on tel: 01332 347371.

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