Controversial airfield's plan to keep road accidentally built 12m from play area set to be approved

An ambition to retain a road almost the length of a running track at a controversy-hit airfield, has been recommended for approval, despite villagers claiming it could put children at a nearby playground at risk.

Hambleton District Council's planning committee will meet on Thursday (May 27) to consider Bagby Airfield owner Martin Scott s latest changes to the site, which some residents have sought to have closed for about a decade.

Mr Scott's attempts to modernise the 44-acre airfield at near Thirsk, have triggered a bitter dispute which has led to several public inquiries, unprecedented enforcement action, residents being compensated by the council and charity Yorkshire Air Ambulance quitting its base there.

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Such is the controversy surrounding the airfield that councillors, rather than officers, will be asked to consider if the road is acceptable due to it having been built eight metres from where it had received consent for in 2019.

The children's play area in Bagby, with the airfield just behind it

Solicitor Mr Scott said contractors had accidentally incorrectly placed it along the northern and eastern boundaries of agricultural fields surrounding the airfield, resulting it being built 12 metres from a children’s play area.

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In planning documents, Mr Scott said the drive respected the character of the landscape more and the proposal supported an existing employment site.

However, some residents believe the airfield's owner should be forced to tear up the road.

Bagby and Balk Parish Council said the road's proximity to the playground created "a health and safety concern" and that it was some 80cm wider than Mr Scott had been given permission for. A parish council spokesman said it was a "much wider road which has clearly been designed to take much larger vehicles".

Bagby and Balk Village Society added the play park had proved to be "a major amenity boost not only to the village but to the whole district", particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A society spokesman said: "Both our insurers and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have told us we have a duty of care in law to evaluate the safety risk to children using the park from this new road which is not in accordance with that already approved for airfield development."

However, the council's planning officers said the play area was bounded by a three-metre high hedgerow and that "no gaps are evident within the hedgerow so as to give rise to any significant risk of children running onto the access road".

In a report to the meeting the officers state the access track was gated to limit its use to only users of the airfield. They state: "This is an improvement for the safety of users of the play area.

"It is considered that the proposal would not have a significant impact on the safety and amenity of users of the play area nor on highway safety."