Villagers near Banbury 'breathe sigh of relief' after council rejects motocross track plans

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Residents of Hornton and neighbouring villages have said they “breathed a sigh of relief” after the district council voted against plans for a motocross track yesterday (July 13).

At last evening’s Cherwell District Council planning meeting, the committee rejected a retrospective planning application for the Wroxton MX Track, situated between Wroxton and Hornton.

The council voted by 13 votes to nil against the plans, primarily due to objections received over noise complaints and environmental issues.

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The farm land owned by Manor Farm has had a track on it for around 40 years and was initially used by the Banbury MX Club for their races up to 14 times a year.

A view of the motocross track submitted in the planning application.A view of the motocross track submitted in the planning application.
A view of the motocross track submitted in the planning application.

Residents of Hornton claim that the track has been developed from a small 'local facility' to one that is now rated as one of the top motocross venues in the country and is hired out to large clubs and organisations that run large events.

Events taking place draw thousands to the quiet area, and residents say this causes traffic mayhem, road damage, and weekends blighted by noise that is heard from miles away.

The application for the track was originally made in June 2021 and resulted in the committee granting provisional permission subject to a number of conditions, including the number of days the track was permitted to be used and new objections from the wildlife trust.

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However, planning committee councillors said they were "keen to go above and beyond” to reconsider the plans given the level of interest and letters of objection they had received.

Hornton villagers say the nature of the track and racing has changed and is now too big and too noisyHornton villagers say the nature of the track and racing has changed and is now too big and too noisy
Hornton villagers say the nature of the track and racing has changed and is now too big and too noisy

Speaking at the meeting, John Offord, the chair of Hornton Parish Council, said: "This was once a little local track for kids, but it was unlawfully turned into one of the biggest motocross circuits in Europe without a shred of planning permission."

The chair went on to say that the track, which hasn’t been used in two years, has 'naturally become rewilded, becoming a haven for wildlife'. He also said that the closing of the local motocross club and the opening of a new track in Oxfordshire 'confirmed there is no real need for another MX track'.

Objectors to the plans also cited the fact that many of the committee members from the original application have moved on, the world is a lot more green and environmentally focused, and the council never confirmed sound pollution monitoring from the track.

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Landowner Sandra Kerwood's application said the rental income from the track is essential to her business and is seen as part of the farm's diversification strategy. She claims the track will bring people into the area, providing a positive year-round impact on the use of shops, pubs, and restaurants, boosting the local economy, employment, and prosperity.

A queue of vehicles waiting to enter the Wroxton MX track.A queue of vehicles waiting to enter the Wroxton MX track.
A queue of vehicles waiting to enter the Wroxton MX track.

Hornton resident Roger Corke, one of the core team members who has been fighting against the plans, said: "Every summer, about three or four times a year, we heard what can be described as a bee sound, but in 2016, the owner of the track turned this little grass track into what sounded like Brands Hatch, the difference was extraordinary.

"It got so bad that we couldn’t sit in the garden and would have to close the windows. Thousands of people will have breathed a huge sigh of relief today with this decision."