Appeal to create paint-balling centre in woodland rejected

A West Yorkshire entrepreneur has lost his appeal against a planning decision preventing him using an ancient semi-natural wood as a year-round paintball venue.

image: Stephen Marchetti
image: Stephen Marchetti
Outdoor activities company To The Full founder Dominic Botwright applied to Bradford Metropolitan District Council last year for a change of use to Catton Woods between Ilkey and Burley in Wharfedale to a paintball facility. The application was rejected by in March.

Botwright's appeal against the decision was dismissed on 22 October, with the inspector citing the effect on the appearance of the area including its effect on protected trees, and on local biodiversity, contrary to the local development plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.

Lying on 2.4 hectares of green belt land, the wood is listed as a priority habitat, with its trees covered by a tree preservation order (TPO).

Paintballing is already permitted on the site for 28 days a year under a General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). As well as seeking year-round use, the proposals included creation of an access track, car parking, equipment storage, toilets, a reception area, hides and netting, but the inspector concluded that these "would adversely affect the visual amenities of the rural area".

He also agreed with the council's argument that the proposals "would significantly harm the ability of the woodland to regenerate due to potential for significant footfall destroying any emerging saplings or seedlings, through soil compaction and damage to existing trees".

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