Village playground to get 'child proof fence' to protect children after controversial airfield accidentally built road just 12m away

The future of a village playground looks set to have been secured after councillors agreed an airfield’s owner should be made to install a fence beside the play area to protect children.

A meeting of Hambleton District Council’s planning committee heard the popular playground at Bagby was in danger of having to close over insurance requirements as Bagby Airfield’s access road had been incorrectly sited.

Councillors heard the 44-acre airfield’s owner Martin Scott had applied for consent after changes were made to plans to upgrade the airfield, which was granted permission in 2019.

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A spokeswoman for Mr Scott told the meeting concerns over the farming regime and road safety had led to the route of the road being changed to around the north of a farm field between the airfield and the playground.

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

She said: “Now it has been done it is a lot more logical. It respects the nature of the hedgerows and character of the agricultural land a lot more than the diagonal alignment that was approved.”

The spokeswoman said the incorrect siting of the road eight metres from where it had been proposed had been “a genuine mistake by the contractor” and was not spotted until the access had been completed.

The council’s planning officers told the meeting as the play area was bounded by a three-metre high hedgerow with no gaps and the new track was gated, it represented a safety improvement for the play area.

Echoing concerns previously raised by Bagby and Balk Parish Council, ward member Coun Andrew Robinson told the meeting children had been known to force themselves through gaps in the hedge and then through a wooden fence to get to the area near where the road had been built.

He said when there had only been an agricultural field on the other side of the fence the risk to children had been small, but the Bagby and Balk Village Society had now been told by its insurers that it would have to undertake a duty of care risk assessment.

He said unless Mr Scott introduced a child-proof fence on his land the playground was in danger of having to close down.

Coun Robinson said: “This is like a case of David and Goliath. We’ve got a playing field and play area against a massive airfield.”

The meeting heard several members councillors voice frustration over the way developments were handled at Bagby Airfield and dismay over the continuing controversies surrounding it more than a decade after Mr Scott first announced his intention to make changes at the site near Thirsk.

They also highlighted that the council’s planning officers had faced “a challenging situation”.

However, after agreeing that a fence by the playground be made a condition of planning consent, the committee concluded the changes to the road location were positive and the application should be passed.