A man who wanted to honour one of his late grandfather’s final wishes by gifting a piece of land to the community has said the council’s decision not to approve his plans for a third time was “unbelievable”.
John Harrison has spent more than £10,000 of his own money trying to get planning permission for a free-to-use BMX track for Church Fenton approved by Selby District Council.
But the businessman said he was now “fed up” after battling the planning process for two years.
His grandfather, well-known villager William Harrison, said before he died that he wanted the family’s agricultural land to be put to use to stop it being converted into housing.
Grandson John then submitted a planning application for a BMX track off Busk Lane, providing a space for young people to learn to cycle and parents to walk their dogs, along with a car park and toilet block.
The application was first submitted in February 2020, but was deferred once for a site visit and once in order to consult the neighbouring airfield.
But Mr Harrison lost his patience when the application – which attracted 40 letters of support and 28 in objection – returned to council earlier this month for a third time with a recommendation for refusal.
This was because the lead local flood authority, North Yorkshire County Council, said it needed more information due to flooding concerns.
He said: “I said I’m not putting another penny into it – I’m £12,500 in of my own money, for something I thought would go straight through.”
Mr Harrison, 35, said his grandfather, a former Selby councillor, would have been “fuming” at what had happened.
He added: “He was Church Fenton through and through.
“He was at death’s door for a while so he just wanted to leave something behind.
“I grew up in Church Fenton and there’s nothing there. There’s a park in the middle but it’s tiny.
“We thought everyone was going to love it. It’s going to cost nothing for the community – I was going to fund everything. To be honest, it’s just been unbelievable.”
Sam Dewar, Mr Harrison’s planning agent, said his client had spent thousands of pounds on drainage strategies, adding that the planning committee could have passed the application with a condition that further tests were conducted.
He told councillors: “I really don’t understand how after two years of frustration members are now being presented with a recommendation to refuse.
“We have provided everything requested and have attended three planning committees and have had two planning officers for what is a community project that is completely compliant with planning policy.”
Church Fenton ward councillor Keith Ellis said during the meeting that the area was “very prone to flooding”. He added: “When it does flood down there it is very bad.
“Obviously we want the percolation tests to make sure that nothing untoward happens again.”
A decision notice for the application stated:
“The scheme is not considered to be acceptable in terms of flood risk and drainage due to insufficient information being available to determine whether the development can achieve a viable means of discharging surface water.”
Mr Dewar said he would appeal the decision on his client’s behalf.