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Stables & riding schools

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Updated 11 May 2007, this page includes various recent decisions on appeals against refusal of planning consent. Summarises of appeal decisions arising from refusal of planning consent are available at www.Planning Reource.co,uk/dcs, with a copy of the decision letter also available for a fee.

 'SoS' = Secretary of State. 'DETR' is now ‘DCLG’ = Dept for Communities and Local Government.


Equestrian facilities allowed in Lancs GB.  It would provide an attractive recreational facility in a countryside setting the Inspector said.  Inert waste would be imported to create landforms including a showground, stables and a cross-country track for horses.  The council argued the landfill was incompatible with GB policy but the Inspector disagreed since it would have to go into a landfill site.  The effect on openness was neutral and would diversify the farm enterprise.  The high quality facilities would serve  a large urban area.  DCS ref OT 100-045-515.  8.12.06

Mobile home, stables and workshop allowed in Surrey GB.  The applicant, previously a tenant on the 300ha farm, bought various farm buildings and 45ha.  A mobile home was put on site for a groom and buildings converted into polo stables and general industrial use.  The Inspector allowed the mobile home for 3 years, but only while ponies were stabled there.  Only one building can be used for industrial use because if all 888m2 were used it would cause an unacceptable increase in traffic and an excessively intense use of the land.  DCS 100042445.  16.6.06

House refused at stables.  Not in the GB but of interest.  The Inspector rejected an appeal for a dwelling at a Cambridgeshire stud farm.  Security and well-being of the horses was a material consideration at this site outside any settlement, there was no evidence of consideration of CCTV and alarms.  PPS7 said protection of livestock was insufficient on its own.  DCS 100040928.  24.2.06

Stables approved in Kent GB.  Despite the officer’s recommendation, plans were refused as undermining the openness of the GB.  The Inspector awarded costs against the council because the stables were essential facilities genuinely required for outdoor recreation.  The design was in keeping with the area’s character and visual amenity.   DCS 100041674.  21.4.06

Extra stables refused at Merseyside GB.  The farm had 4 stables and 4.25 ha grazing pasture.  The proposed addition of 4 more stables would create a run 30m long with a storage building alongside.  The inspector decided this would not comply with PPG2’s example of ‘small’ stables for outdoor sports etc facilities.  Although the amount of grazing land for up to 16 horses was within the council’s policy of at least 0.4ha per horse, and the inspector’s agreement with a vet that these types of  horses required stables, that was not sufficiently very special to justify approval.    DCS 100039127.  4.11.05

Keeping & breeding horses not agricultural use.  This use did not fall within the definition of agriculture with citing of Belmont v Min of Housing and Local Gov.  1962.An enforcement order was therefore upheld on Kent GB land since the land, stable block and tack rooms were not used for agricultural purposes.    The size, mass and bulk of the building detracted from the openness of the GB.  The hardship to the appellant did not outweigh the harm to the GB.  DCS 100037220.  10 June 2005.

Stables and ménage refused in Surrey GB.  Horse riding and keeping horses was not inappropriate, but the site was also used for animal rescue which was not outdoor recreation.  7 Stables, a hay barn and feed shed were not small-scale and therefore inappropriate,  and fencing around the ménage reduced the openness.  No very special circumstances had been put forward.  DCS 30159453.  Sept 2004.

 Personal condition removed from stables in Warwicks GB – Circular 11/95 said it will be rarely appropriate to give permission that does not run with the land.  The Council inserted the condition to prevent large-scale or commercial use of the site and prevent new development from being perpetrated.  The Inspector found no evidence that the building would be used for a short time and become redundant.  He decided that removal of the personal condition would not affect the visual amenities so he granted permission without it but retained the undisputed conditions.  DCS 30241232  October 2003.

Worcs GB equestrian hospital approved - modern farm buildings can be converted into an equestrian hospital. The Inspector decided it would not harm the openness of the GB. It was compatible with GB policy but permission did limit the hours of use. The LA was concerned that, combined with other existing and approved uses of the farm, it might affect highway safety and the GB. DCS 33387050.

Stable use restrictions are valid - A Cheshire GB farm received planning permission in 1999 for a stable block, restricting use for keeping & breeding horses. The appellant said the condition was not sufficiently precise to to clear and enforceable. The condition said it could not be used for agriculture including keeping livestock, was for the private enjoyment of the owners and not for trade or business, with horse breeding only by people living in nearby dwellings. The Inspector decided this was clear and enorceable, and prevented any reversion to agricultural use. He did permit an alteration allowing up to 20 mares and 4 permanent liveries, but not a riding school or riding centre. DCS 42336740

'Storage' building for GB paddock refused - Located in the Worcs. GB, a two-storey timber building was used to store wire, wooden posts, creosote etc for the maintenance of a 0.6ha paddock for two horses. The Inspector agreed that the land was used for recreation but it already had a tack room, two stables and an open feed and bedding store. The Appellant's house was nearby so the building was not essential for paddock maintenance, and the first floor balcony suggested a non-essentail purpose. The appeal was refused. Wyre Forset DC 25 July 2002. DCS 4358286

Horse breeding and training centre inappropriate in GB - Near Sunderland and in the GB, the Inspector concluded this use was not required in conjunction with a farm holding and reduced the openness of the countryside. Although it was only an outline application, the complex would be visually prominent and intrusive no matter where it was placed on the site, so it would not preserve the openness. Also the local plan policy of promoting local business did not lead to permission for a complex comprising an exercise yard, stables for 10 horses, a storage barn and warden's house. The Inspector ruled that this should not undermine the orther objectives of the local plan, including GB policies. PPG7 gave advice on the countryside dealing with development involving horses, and their exercise and training was not an agricultural use. Sunderland CC 31 July 2002. DCS 43917801.

Livery stables redevelopment refused - Former livery stables in the Brostol green belt cannot be redeveloped for housing. the Inspector ruled that the previous use was more akin to agriculture than urban develeopment within a built-up area. On the edge of a vilage near Clevedon, the 0.8ha site contained livery stanles, tack rooms, kennels & grazing paddocks. The Inspector said PPG3 (Housing) defined previously used land as 'land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure and associated curtilage'. He said the existing buildings were more recreational or agricultural than urban in nature. The site was outside the defined settlement boundary. The presumption against inappropriate development was paramount. N Somerset Council 2 May 2002. DCS 33786343.

Commercial stables enforcement order upheld - Although the Inspector upheld the order requiring a cessation of use of Green Belt land & buildings for this use, he gave the appellant more time to produce an acceptable scheme. On planning merits the inspector thought horse stabling could continue provided no business activity took place. Because there was no limit on the number of horses, and they could belong to family members and friends, there was an impact on the amenity of residents unless action was taken. By giving a 12 month compliance period, the appellant had time to make a planning application limiting the number of porses and provide adequate truning facilities and landscaping. N. Somerset Council 4 Dec 2001. DCS 35090487

Increased number of horses rejected at stables - A condition limited 8 stables (4 daytime plus 4 nighttime)to use by 4 horses was upheld for a 0.7ha site in Essex because of the lack of bridleways in the area and conflict with green belt policies. The appellants argued that it had previoulsy been used by 5 horses. Permission had been granted for this replacement stabling and exceptionally agreed to vawe the normal limit of 1 horse per 0.5ha grazing land. Grazing was an argicultural use but not in excess of that limit. Rochford DC 20 Nov 2001 - DCS No 45418817. 'Planning' magazine commented that there was a need for sensible detailed national guidelines for 'horsiculture'.

Stables rejected - not small scale

The Inspector refused an 8 horse stable block in the Notts green belt because it was not a small-scale facilioty associated with sports and recreation. At 39m length it was inappropriate being an intrusive feature eroding the openness of the green belt. No very special circumstances had been offered. Gedling BC 24 Aug 2001. DCS No. 32893802

23 stables allowed in Green belt

The Inspector allowed 23 stables at a farm in the Cheshire Green Belt. The owner of the land is to use them for rearing and training horses for the family's own enjoyment. Being for sport and recreational use they were appropriate in the Green Belt. A condition restricted the stabling of horses for the personal enjoyment of the occupants of the farm only. Warrington BC 8 Aug 2001 - DCS No 32301271

Stable conversion refused being a major reconstruction

A stable in the Green Belt cannot be converted into a doctor's surgery. A survey report suggested structural adequacy for conversion but the Inspector noted the report gave few details of the work or repairs required. It did require a new roof, strengthening and partial rebuilding the walls. Add to that 2 new windows, replacement of an open-fronted canopy with a glazed corridor, and the Inspector concluded it was a major reconstruction, contrary to Green belt policy. It would harm the rural character of the area. Broxbourne BC 19 June 2001. DCS No. 39849127

Stables too large.

Stables and a hayloft were rejected on the basis of PPG2 - to be essential, facilities must be genuinely required for the purpose and have a low proportion of building in relation to the land area. the building would be 12.2m long, 7.6m wide and a ridge height of 4m for 3 horses or ponies - equivalent to a good-sized bumgalow. Given the muddy and churned up nature of the field it was unlikely to support a larger number of horses. Doncaster MBC 21 March 2001 . DCS No. 42392571.

Riding school and animal sanctuary approved

The SoS approved their continuation at a Cilterns farm following the High Court's decision to quash a previous appeal decision. It was now agreed that the openness of the countryside would not be affected. Approval was restricted to 9 horses and 2 residential caravans. Dacorum BC 6 Feb 2001 DCS No. 42171322.

Horse shelter approved in Green Belt

the Inspector agreed that the 3 ponies should have shelter from the elements throughout the year, and that it was small and unobtrusive so it preserved the openness of the Green Belt. The local authority had refused permission because of an existing stable on the land. East Dorset DC 25 January 2001 - ref. APP/U1240/A/00/1050869.

Indoor riding arena refused in the green belt

The High Court upheld the Inspector's decision to refuse an indoor equestrian sports centre in Barnet, despite claims that the inquiry had been unfair. Barnet refused permission because the building floor area increase from 1,865 sqm to 7,830 sqm shifted the balance from outdoor to indoor activities, making it inappropriate in the green belt. The original Inspector fell ill and Belmont Riding Centre Ltd claimed that the handover notes, for the replacement Inspector, were insufficient. The judge disagreed. Ref CO/4539/1999. 12 Oct 2000.

Stable owner refused permission for a residential development in the Green Belt.

The owner of a livery stable failed at the High Court to overrule a planning inspector's refusal to allow residential development. The inspector agreed with Solihull MBC in refusing outline permission to build a house and residentail annex for occupation by staff or students working or training at the stables. The present operation relied heavily on the personal success of the owner in the specialised field of competitive show-jumping and was unlikely to continue in its present form after the owner's personal involvement ceased. The judge agreed that the livery business could continue in its present state without the residential accommodation proposed.

Stables refused

Plans refused to move a racing stable closer to the gallops on green belt land in an area of outstanding natural beauty. DETR said the advantages of relocation were insufficient to count as a very special circumstance. They are currently in a 100 year o ld stables, which the owners said were a non-conforming use in a largely residential area, and the horses 200m trip to the gallops along a public road is dangerous. Cannock Chase DC said the proposals were not small, as required by PPG2 guidance, but was outweighed by the fact that the business could only be carried out in rur al surroundings, was screened on 3 sides, and on unimportant grassland. DETR accepted that racehorse training on all-weather gallops was appropriate for the green belt, but not the location of stables etc.


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