Parents urge council to reconsider after under 16’s quad and biking track told to shut down

Three-year-old Levett at the Oakland MX track

A quad and biking track off Ebbsfleet Lane that was set up for under 16s has been shut down by Thanet council.

Oaklands MX, run by biker enthusiasts  Mark Hamilton and Robert Godden, started at the site last year but has been closed due to covid restrictions.

The friends say the aim is to teach youngsters how to ride quads and motorbikes in a safe manner and add that there is a strong focus on getting children who are disadvantaged or live with conditions such as ADHD involved in a social activity.

The site, at land off the Sevenscore roundabout, had originally been the subject of an application by Ovalsport Ltd for a stock car racing track but this was rejected by Thanet council and, on appeal, by the Planning Inspectorate.

Ernie Mcleary aged 4

Mark says the current circuit is a far cry from the previous proposals by the last applicants.

He said: “We are here one day at the weekend, one week on a Saturday and then on a Sunday. We open at 8.30am but there are no bikes until 10am out of respect for the local residents, We do not run for hours, it is just from 10am to 3pm.

“We opened up after the lockdown and had some meets but then the council shut us down. We did not know the permitted development rights had been revoked and nor did the landowner.

Track photo Robert Godden

“This is something for under 16s and we have had a lot of support from parents about being here for the kids, especially the kids with disabilities and ADHD.

“We have proper facilities and a burger van but there is nothing left on site when we finish up.

“We want to stay open and carry on doing this for the kids. We have put a lot of money into it and will lose that if this gets rejected.

“We’d like locals to come and see us and see what we do.”

The pair have had dozens of emails and messages of support from parents who do not want to lose the facility but there have also been complaints about noise made to Thanet council.

One parent said: “Everything is done properly, there are marshalls, health and safety, firs aid. It is something good for the children and keeps them off the streets. This has caused so much disappointment for the little ones, The nearest track like this to Thanet is Maidstone so I think Thanet really needs this.. I strongly believing closing this down was the wrong decision.”

Photo Robert Godden

Another parent has written to Thanet council, saying: “Our youngest son has Autism and this is the only activity outside of the house that he will participate in.

“The staff at Oaklands are fully inclusive of age and disability and have made both of our children most welcome. They have been particularly patient and understanding of our younger son’s disability and have taken time to let him adjust to the environment. They understand his needs and give him space to ride his bike in a safe and secure environment. The staff are absolutely amazing and have gained his trust which they should feel very proud of.

Our children look forward to their day out at Oakland’s and have made some new friends. It’s a nice, well managed site, where family is at the heart of everything they do.”

They added: “We ask that you don’t take this facility away from our children.”

Mark and Robert say they are now seeking advice on a planning application in the hope they can reopen at the site.

The pair say they have also had to clear up after someone entered the site and spread rusty nails on the track.

Photo Robert Godden

A Thanet council spokesperson said action was taken following complaints about noise and disturbance from the track.

They said: “The council investigated the use of the site following complaints about the noise and disturbance being caused.

“Concerns have been raised over the use of the land for racing over the past two years, with particular concerns regarding the impact on residential amenities of nearby residents, impact on highway safety (including additional traffic using the level crossing) and the impact of the use on the environment regarding biodiversity and groundwater.

“Permitted development rights for temporary uses of the site were removed following the retrospective approval for engineering work, so there wasn’t planning permission for this use.

“The council served a temporary stop notice on the land on April 29 to prevent unauthorised use immediately and to safeguard amenity and safety in the neighbourhood.

“This notice will expire after 28 days, within which time the council will assess and determine whether a full enforcement notice will be served. As part of this process the operator could appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.”

Find Oaklands MX on facebook here