Preston go-karting and motocross centre gets set for major overhaul
A motorsport-driven education centre in Preston which provides training for young people in care has been given the green light for a radical revamp.
A new, largely four-storey structure - dubbed the “Pioneer Building” - will be created at the heart of the Trax Motor Centre site close to Preston Docks.
The building will include residential accommodation for up to 25 youngsters and will also house educational and leisure facilities, as well as a café and shop. A partial fifth-storey rooftop terrace and viewing platform will overlook an existing go-kart track, which, along with a motocross course, is and will remain open to the public.
Preston City Council's planning committee also approved the construction of two multi-use games areas at the Walland Road site, both of which could be made available for hire by the local community when not being used by students.
Meanwhile, a single-level workshop compound will be created on the 33-hectare plot, to be used for storing and maintaining off-road vehicles and earth-moving equipment involved in the upkeep of the motocross track.
Committee members broadly welcomed the scheme, because of the youth work done at the centre. Trax Motorsport was established just over 20 years ago with the aim of helping control the illegal riding of motorcycles on public land by creating a safe, managed space for young people and enthusiasts to use. A vocational academy was then set up a decade ago for children in the social care system and also those excluded from school.
Chris Betteridge, the agent for the application, told councillors that Trax wants to "build on" that work by enhancing its riverside base.
"The applicant has used motorsport as a means by which to engage and enthuse young people to achieve qualifications and, subsequently, assist them into employment," Mr. Betteridge said.
Committee member Cllr Jennifer Mein described the facility as “fantastic” and praised the service being provided - but raised concern about noise emanating from the site, “particularly in the evenings”. The meeting heard that noise complaints had previously been received from people living nearby, but that no objections had been raised about the proposed new development.
Questioning whether it was possible to regulate the hours of operation of the tracks, Cllr Mein was told by planning offices that these had already been determined by the existing permission for the facility - and could not be changed by imposing a condition under the application for the new building.
However, Mr. Betteridge said that there was no intention of increasing the use of the tracks - and revealed that there would be a gradual shift to the use of electric vehicles on the site, which would deliver a “net benefit” by being quieter.
He added that the residential and educational elements of the facility would be regulated by OFSTED and that the “safety and security of people on the site is paramount”.
Committee chair Cllr Javed Iqbal said: “Facilities like this are few and far between for people with difficult backgrounds - and I'm sure there is a lot of good work going to be done.”
An existing building close to the new Pioneer structure will be demolished after the new facility is built, while a security lodge with barrier access will be created at a remodelled entrance to the site to provide round-the-clock security. The current access will then be closed off.
Although deemed to be in conflict with some of Preston’s local planning policies, planning officers recommended that the application be approved as the proposed development "could not reasonably be located elsewhere". The scheme was unanimously supported by committee members.
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