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Stable Block Approved in the Warwickshire Green Belt, with the added complication of Greater Crested Newts

Another successful application for a stable block, in a field next to the applicants house. This time we had the unexpected surprise of Greater Crested Newts being present on the site as well.  Not everybody knows, but Greater Crested Newts are a protected species and if there is a suspicion that they are present, then surveys are required to determine the population levels and depending upon what is found depends on the mitigation measures that need to be taken and some of them can be very expensive and time consuming to deal with.

Greater Crested Newt surveys can only be carried out in the spring, if you’ve got them and you miss the survey season, then you almost certainly have to wait for next year, which is exactly what happened here. The applicant wasn’t aware that they were in the area and neither were the Council until right at the end of the application period. By the time we were made aware that there was a potential issue, it was too late that year to get the survey carried out. So we had to wait until earlier this year before the survey could be commissioned, it was carried out, newts were found (lots of them), a plan was formulated to deal with them  and a new application was submitted to the Council, which was subsequently approved.

Thankfully our client understood the issues and was very tolerant having to wait almost 12 months longer than anticipated to get their approval, but get it we did and their horses are now at home – another happy customer on the list.

Equestrian Planning Inconsistencies

You would have thought that planning applications all get dealt with in the same way, no matter whereabouts in the country you apply; in fact government guidance is actually supposed to make sure that they are consistent, but the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.

You’ll appreciate that we deal with planning departments all over the country, we deal with large and small scale projects, some being commercial in nature and some being for private use. When the current government came into power, they endeavoured to make local authorities improve their planning processes and get their planning policies up to speed and much more in line with the needs and requirements of their own specific geographical areas and in so doing remove many of the more general planning policies that many local authorities were guilty of using.

At the same time drives have been made to move towards everything being carried out electronically – now almost all planning authorities accept applications electronically and will accept payment of application fees electronically as well, but only 4 years ago almost everything was done by paper and cheques.

On the face of it, the changes made should not just speed things up, they should also make things much more consistent – but that is definitely not the case. Some authorities can get applications validated and registered within a couple of days, but many can take over two weeks; some authorities freely give out contact details for their planning officers, some wont give it out at all; some authorities put all correspondence and information on their own web-sites for everybody to see, but many don’t. There are many, many inconsistencies, but one of the most concerning things is that some planning officers don’t really understand their own respective planning policies and many do not know enough about equestrian pursuits or horses to pass judgement on the applications that they are dealing with.

Whilst these inconsistencies are frustrating to deal with, they are now more and more part of a normal days work for a planning consultant; but as you can imagine, this last point (planning policy knowledge and equestrian knowledge) can be quite hard to deal with and key to success is trying to make sure that your agent/planning consultant not only knows their stuff, but also knows how to deal with planning officers who don’t know theirs.

Another Approval for a Stable Block in a Residential Area – This Time In Cheshire

We have recently had approved a challenging planning application for a stables in the heart of a small residential area in Arclid, Cheshire.

The proposed stable block had houses immediately adjacent to the applicants garden and no grazing immediately available. We came up against some very strong neighbour opposition to the stables block, but overcame the main points of concern, which were all environmental health related, in particular, noise, small and vermin concerns.

A bit of a struggle, but ultimately successful and yet another happy customer

Stable Block Approval In Green Belt, Near Halifax

Our client owned land immediately adjacent to her house and like many people she wanted to provide stables on the field, so she could keep her horses there. The desired position for the stables in the field, was immediately adjacent to a well used road and also pretty close to other residential properties. We designed a stable block arrangement that was as inconspicuous as we could make it, and addressed all the potential environmental health concerns with smells, noise, vermin etc. There was a small concern over the drainage arrangements, which we subsequently addressed and we gained approval, at the first time of asking, with no pre-commencement conditions attached to the approval, so the client got straight on and got them built.

Planning Approval to use a caravan for residential use in Cheshire

Now this one is a bit of a coup to say the least – allow me to explain.

The applicant has a small equestrian site in the heart of the countryside, which consists of a few loose boxes used as stables and storage, an arena, a static caravan that had approval for use as a dayroom and around 14 acres of land. The applicant wanted permission to live on her equestrian site in the static caravan, which to be fair is almost unheard of.

As well as keeping her own pleasure and competition horses at the site, she also rescues horses for a living, saving most from slaughter. Almost all her rescued horses have quite severe medical problems, suffering from a variety of different conditions, some of which are life threatening and many also have pretty serious behavioural problems which are generally as a result of cruelty and neglect. Initially the rescue horses require round the clock care to treat some of the conditions and as a consequence there is a need for the applicant to be on site through out the day and also the night. There was no doubt in my mind that the rescue work was more than worthy, in fact I think she is doing an incredible job, but that in itself is not enough to satisfy planning departments, we needed to prove that there was an absolute need for her to be on-site 24 hours a day.

We put together what I considered to be a very convincing argument, but the planning authority were extremely nervous about granting permission for  the residential use. The Planning Authority in question had recently refused another application on another equestrian site, for the residential use of a caravan (not one put together by Equestrian Design I hasten to add), which to be frank did not stand up well to scrutiny at all and in my view this clouded their judgement on our application. We provided the planning department with further detailed information but they still wouldn’t be persuaded that there was either a business there in the first place, nor were they persuaded that there was an absolute need to be on site on a round the clock basis; I think there was also some concern about a precedent being set and they subsequently refused the application.  There were obvious reasons why the planning authority were reluctant to agree with our point of view, and it was quite apparent from the discussions that I’d had, that our best chance of gaining permission was not to re-apply with further added detail, our best chance was to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The applicant showed tremendous faith in taking this approach, the appeal process is quite detailed and lengthy (as most planning appeals are) and following a great deal of work and a planning hearing in Sandbach, Cheshire, (which included a visit to the site itself), the Planning Inspectorate, thankfully, agreed with my point of view and gave permission for the caravan to be used for residential purposes.

To put this success into a little more context, many of our clients are extremely thankful for the permissions that we gain, and I like to think that many of our approvals are life changing for the applicants – there is no doubt in my mind that this approval certainly is!

New Stable Block near Stockport

The applicant here had had her own horses for years and her and her children had kept them on livery, close to their previous house, for years. Like many people they had been on the look out for a house with land attached, where they could move to and keep their horses on-site. They came across a suitable property for sale and contacted us to apply for permission.
As ever, we put together a very thorough planning application and gained approval for the stables a few days after they moved into their new house.
The stables are now built and the horses have moved in and all are enjoying their new life together.

New Livery Operation Approved in Oxfordshire

Our client here has kept their own horses in livery close to their previous house for over 15 years, and their dream was always to be able to have their own place, in the country, where they could keep their own horses, on their own land.
After some time searching for a suitable house and land, they came across a small farm, totalling around 20 acres in size, with a couple of old agricultural buildings, large yard and large house, which they bought with the intention of turning into their own livery operation.
The site is close to the border between Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and in many ways is ideally situated for a livery operation (at least from a business point of view).
We put together a very detailed and thorough application, covering all aspects of the application requirements, and we subsequently gained approval for the livery operation, which is to provide stabling for around 10 horses, it included a significant extension to the existing building, a new 60m x 20m arena, provision of on-site parking and changing the use of the whole site.
The application was approved without any pre-commencement conditions attached to it, which means that the applicant could start work immediately, which they did and the livery operation is now up and running
Another success for Equestrian Design and another on the long list of happy clients!!

Racing Yard Approved in Green Belt, in Lancashire

The applicant here has kept horses on there own yard for years. The yard is next to their house and amongst other things benefits from stables, a gallop track, indoor arena and extensive grazing. The applicants kept their own family horses in the stables, but they also own a small number of race horses, which were professionally trained at a professional racing yard.
Their own yard is ideal for the training of race horses, but in order to get the yard registered as a training yard, they needed planning permission from their local planning authority.
Whilst I was dealing with the planning department, the applicant was dealing with the British Horse Racing Authority, to get their licence to train, so both applications were running in tandem.
We have carried out planning consultancy work for the applicant before and everything on the site has always ended up at planning committee and this application was no exception – it was called into committee by a local councillor.
I met the planning officer on site to go through the details of the application and they were happy to recommend approval of everything to the planning committee. The committee members visited the site on the morning of the committee and when it was discussed at the committee all was approved.
So the applicant has now got planning approval to use his yard to train his own racehorses and has subsequently gained a licence for the site from the British Horse Racing Authority as well.
Another happy customer

Planning Appeal Win for a New Livery Building in Cheshire Green Belt

This applicant here had an established livery business, which had been operational on the site since the early 1970’s. The livery unit is on a small farm near Macclesfield in Cheshire and the applicant wanted to replace an existing steel framed agricultural building with a new American barn and also take down (and not replace) their existing stable block, which was positioned too close to their house.
When they contacted us, they had already had an application refused, by the local authority. I looked at the details of the refused application and I could see why the application had been refused, but I felt that the building that they wanted to erect should have been acceptable to the planning authority, if only the application had been put together with the correct level of justification.
The applicant asked us to put another application in, but after much deliberation with the planning department, they refused it, mainly due to the impact on the Green Belt – which I thought was a ridiculous stance for the planning department to take. The applicant was understandably disappointed, but they showed a great deal of faith in our abilities and asked us to put a planning appeal together, which was subsequently refused.
Interestingly the Planning Inspectorate agreed with just about everything that we had said with all the justification put forward and disagreed completely with the planning departments reasons for refusal.
Yet another happy client and also proof that planning departments are not always correct!!

New Menage and relocation of existing stables approved in Cheshire Green Belt

This application was on a pretty confined site, in a lovely Cheshire village, that came under the jurisdiction of Cheshire East Council. The applicant had bought the property a few years earlier with an existing stable block in the field, and now she wanted to relocate the stables to a much better position and also provide a new 45m x 25m ménage.

In total the grazing land extended to 2.5 acres, with stabling for 4 horses, so the site was already short on the required amount of grazing (at least it was in planning terms) and the applicant wanted to reduce this still further, by providing a ménage which took up another 1125m2 of grazing.

We put together an application with plenty of justification for the proposal, including significant information about the positioning of the ménage, the repositioning of the stables and also the potential lack of grazing for the number of horses.

Whilst the planning officer supported the application, one of the closest neighbours didn’t. He happened to be a fairly influential figure in the local community and managed to gain support for his objection from the Parish Council and just about everybody else who owned a property adjacent to the land in question together with one or two who didn’t live close by at all.

After much discussion and emails between myself and the planning department, we managed to avoid the application being dealt with at the planning committee and secured approval. The applicant was absolutely over the moon and is hoping to get the work completed by the end of the summer.

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