Kate AshbrookCampaigners have lost the battle to stop a motorbike centre using green lanes in south Devon.

South Hams District Council’s development control committee granted permanent planning permission to Wheeldon Farm to run motorbike training sessions which involve the use of the lanes around the centre near Halwell.

Kate Ashbrook 

Officers had recommended permission be given for five years, but councillors overruled them and granted permanent consent.

Campaign group the Open Spaces Society deplored the decision. General secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “There were 81 objectors to the proposal. They were concerned about the effect of the application on the peace and tranquillity of this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  

“The development is certain to lead to greater use by motorbikes of the unique and historic green lanes of South Devon – a vital element of the district’s heritage.

“We are dismayed that most councillors paid scant regard to the special qualities of this lovely area. They rejected the officers’ recommendation that the permission should be for five years only, and ruled that it be permanent.  

“Local residents will be closely monitoring the use of the green lanes by Wheeldon bikers and will report any abuse to the council.”

  • The OSS says the Government must preserve the right to register open spaces as greens.

High Peak Labour MP Tom Levitt has called an adjournment debate on the matter today. The society has briefed Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Jonathan Shaw, pointing out that a dozen new greens have been registered this year.

Nicola Hodgson, OSS case officer, said: “We want the new law to be upheld, so that land which has been used freely by local people for informal recreation for 20 years can be registered as a town or village green and protected for future generations to enjoy.

“It is sometimes claimed that people try to register land as a green purely in order to thwart development.

“We are not aware of any such applications and do not believe the legislation is being abused. We have therefore urged the minister, Jonathan Shaw robustly to defend the legislation, which enables local people to gain rights on land which they have enjoyed for a long period.

In the past year, greens have been registered from Northumberland to Northampton; Cumbria to Kent and Essex to Pembrokeshire.