PLANS to build the "finest" outdoor go-karting and high-speed driving centre in Europe are set to be approved despite local fury at the proposals.The £1.
By James Mortlock
PLANS to build the "finest" outdoor go-karting and high-speed driving centre in Europe are set to be approved despite local fury at the proposals.
The £1.3million scheme, which could be endorsed by former Grand Prix racing driver Johnny Herbert, is being planned for the Wild Tracks Offroad Activity Park just off the A11 at Kennett, near Newmarket.
The owners of the park want to drop motocross motorcycle scrambling, which has been going on at the 60-acre former gravel pit for more than 25 years, in favour of karting, high-speed car driving and a new course for four-wheel-drive vehicles.
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In addition, a 120-bedroom hotel with conference facilities capable of hosting up to 500 people is also planned.
But more than 30 local residents and several parish councils have objected to the scheme and the Wild Tracks Action Group has been set up, which has employed its own experts to fight the plans.
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They say the track will lead to extra traffic and increased noise pollution in the area. Allan Duncan, chairman of Red Lodge Parish Council, said the authority had opposed the scheme because it feared extra traffic would use the village and the noise created by the racing would be "intolerable".
"The village will be much, much busier but that's not the only problem. There is also the noise from the park – it will be terrible for villages like Chippenham but we're just across the A11 and it will be very noisy for us," he said.
Mr Duncan, also a member of Forest Heath District Council, said the parish council had objected but he feared there was little more the authority could do to stop the expansion going ahead.
Peter Carter Associates, for the action group, said the scheme would lead to a "significant and unacceptable increase in noise disturbance over a long distance".
There is also opposition from parish councillors in Kennett and nearby Chippenham and Red Lodge. Neighbouring Forest Heath is also opposed to the proposals.
But East Cambridgeshire District Council, the planning authority for the site, is set to give approval when its planning committee meets today .
Councillors are due to visit Wild Tracks before discussing three separate applications for planning permission. They are being recommended to approve the new driving tracks and the hotel.
But their planning officer, Nigel Brown, is recommending refusal of permission for a manager's house, garage and staff flat on the site on the grounds that there is no justification for a house in the open countryside.
In a statement to the council in support of the development, consultants for Wild Tracks say the scheme will create at least 15 full-time jobs and a further 13 part-time posts. The park currently has five full-timers and 12 part-time workers.
Jim Paice, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, said he was not taking sides but said residents opposed to the scheme had approached him: "I have not expressed a personal view but many residents find the prospects of the scheme quite concerning ad I'm anxious that their views are properly considered."
Mr Paice said the plan would benefit the local economy: "Parts of the area are dreadfully run down and something like this would help but it's a matter for the planning authority."