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Planning your equestrian development

Fri 8 December 2017

Seeking planning permission for equestrian use? There are some important aspects to consider to help ensure this is easily achieved.

1. Private or business? 

The first question to ask yourself is whether you are looking to provide facilities for private use or hoping to run a business from the property. Planning permission for business facilities is likely to involve a great level of scrutiny.

2. AONB?

It is also important to consider whether the property is in a sensitive area such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Park. Different planning requirements can apply to these and any development that impacts on the landscape in these locations would not be permitted. Even outside of these areas, a very exposed site will pose a challenge and such considerations are especially relevant if you are proposing a floodlit outdoor riding school. 

3. A home for wildlife?

While in most cases improved grassland has little ecological value, if the site you are considering has unmanaged grass, trees or scrub it may have higher ecological potential. Areas of woodland or even large trees can also provide habitat for wildlife and in particular bats, so clearance is not always achievable as bats are sensitive to lighting.

4. Traffic

While most relevant to business-related developments, highways stipulations are important in every case. If you are proposing a business-related use then traffic generation will be a very important consideration and careful thought should be given to whether access provisions are adequate or improvable.

5. Agricultural to equestrian?

Finally, it should be remembered that while an equine use is similar to an agricultural one in planning terms, it is essentially a different use and a change of use for the land itself might also be required.

The only equestrian use that falls within the agricultural definition is producing horses for slaughter, wrking horses on the land or turning horses out for grazing only. As soon as more is being done to the horses than merely grazing, planning permission will be required.

If you wish to use any existing agricultural buildings for stabling then a change of use will also be necessary. If the stables are for commercial purposes, business rates will also need to be paid.

Every property is different and it can pay dividends to seek professional advice early on. Stags is able to advise on all equestrian planning matters including new dwellings to support equine buisness.

Alister King-Smith, Head of Planning Services

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