Fed up airfield neighbours have a long wait to discover future of ‘noisy’ site

Runways Farm, Bovingdon. Picture are farm owner Cathy Leahy and Drift Limits owner Jonny Barden
Runways Farm, Bovingdon. Picture are farm owner Cathy Leahy and Drift Limits owner Jonny Barden

The chairman of a village action group opposed to the use of Bovingdon’s Runways Farm as a motorsporting venue says he and his neighbours continue to be affected by the noise, as the practice is allowed to continue while an appeal is lodged.

Brad Gunn of Bovingdon Action Group has reiterated the residents’ concerns following the deadline for those living in the area to submit their complaints last week.

The land is the base for almost 20 businesses including supercar experience days, drifting and a driving academy, which among other training, offers time behind the wheel for teenagers to learn safety.

But Dacorum Borough Council served a notice ordering that all motor activities must stop – except the already approved use by the police for training for 60 days of the year. An appeal has since been submitted by the landowners and Cathy Leahy who runs the site.

Mr Gunn said: “It’s too close to the community of Bovingdon, and I can only assume the owners of the land don’t care.

“The motoring makes it hard to enjoy your garden, and sometimes even your home. It is very upsetting.”

A spokesman for Dacorum Borough Council said: “An appeal has been made against the decision of the council to serve an enforcement notice seeking the cessation of the motor activities, and associated storage and parking, at Runways Farm.

“As a result, the notice has not come into effect and a Planning Inspector will decide whether to uphold or quash the notice. The appeal will be heard by way of public inquiry, which will take place on September 9 to 11 this year.

“The site has seen a significant increase in and variation to this activity since 2011 and some of the users were very noisy, leading to complaints from many local residents.

“The site is located in the Green Belt, where there is a presumption against inappropriate activity.”

Runways Farm submitted an application for a certificate of lawfulness to continue operating, as the owners say it has done so for the past 10 years, back in February 2013.

Joint landowner and site manager Cathy Leahy said acoustic consultants have measured noise levels at the site which will be used to help negotiations with neighbours. She said: “We need to see if we can work together to see our points of difference and whether there are any points that we agree on, so that there as few issues to deal with as possible come September.

“This is one of the better uses of Green Belt land as it needs to be open, and there are fewer changes to the landscape than there would be if you were to keep horses where you’d need to erect stables and create paddocks.

“Plus, it would be messy, noisy and costly to dig up the concrete that is already there, which makes an excellent runway for motorsports.”

Mr Gunn added: “Regulations have been ignored, to the detriment of the community. We want it to be resolved. September is a long time away but we will have to wait and see.”