Home Kent News Buckmore Park ‘consigned to the history books’ after car park plans rejected

Buckmore Park ‘consigned to the history books’ after car park plans rejected

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Original article from Kent Live

The future of racing at Buckmore Park looks ‘bleak’ after car park plans were rejected.

The owners of the historic racing track in Chatham submitted an application to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council to rent out the unused overflow car park to commercial tenants.

The rejection has left owners fearing the worst after a challenging year which has seen them closed for 200 days due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Buckmore Park said the idea of the application was ‘the last hope to save the business’ and said they were now ‘considering their options’

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The application focused on renting the unused overflow car park to commercial tenants which they say would have helped generate income.

However the council rejected the claim on a number of grounds stating it would ‘reduce the use and functionality of Buckmore Park as a valued community facility for recreation, leisure and culture’

They added that the application would ‘have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’

Buckmore Park sits just off the M2 in Chatham

Speaking after the decision, Buckmore Park’s Rich Martell, said: “The combination of three lockdowns, not qualifying for the initial Government financial support, and the simple fact of a changing market, meant this application was effectively our last hope to save the business.”

Many F1 drivers have learnt their trade at the race track just off the M2, with Lewis Hamilton, Johnny Herbert and Jenson Button all racing at the circuit.

Like many businesses across Kent, the team at Buckmore Park have had to deal with sudden closures, significant losses of financial income and staffing cutbacks.

The track has been popular with people from across the country

During the pandemic, in an attempt to cut costs Buckmore Park has had to reduce its workforce from 50 to just two members of staff.

Rich Martell added: “This rejection is hugely disappointing and we feel our proposals have been refused out of hand. We had dropped our plans for a new building on the site, and believe none of the original planning issues raised, such as operating hours,were insurmountable.

“Having been forced to close for more than 200 days in the last year, and not being in a position to reopen when lockdown measures ease, the opportunity to secure a commercial rent from the use of the paddock car park was our only hope of survival.”

Louise Reid, head of planning, in a decision notice outlined why the application was rejected.

She wrote: "As a result of the loss of the paddock area, the proposed development would severely reduce the use and functionality of Buckmore Park as a valued community facility for recreation, leisure and culture by limiting it to commercial karting use only and preventing it from hosting major events, a key component of its value to the community both locally and nationally.

"Due to the proliferation of materials, clutter and associated paraphernalia being stored in the open, increased lighting and significant intensification in activity, the proposal would have a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

"The application has failed to demonstrate that planning permission can be granted for this 24- hour use without harm to neighbouring amenity as a result of increased noise and disturbance"

Original Article