Organisation’s plea to horse owners

The CLA is urging horse owners to make sure their fields, stables and other equestrian facilities comply with planning regulations.
The CLA is urging horse owners to make sure their fields, stables and other equestrian facilities comply with planning regulations.

An organisation is urging horse owners to check their fields, stables and other equestrian facilities.

The CLA, a membership organisation which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, is asking those keeping the animals to check these areas comply with the latest planning regulations.

Most developments required for equestrian purposes will need planning permission of some sort and, unless the horse is purely grazing, there may be change of use issues if the field was previously farmland.

CLA South East Regional Director Robin Edwards said the difference between keeping and grazing a horse is an important one.

He said: “When horses are being kept – which usually means given additional food in the form of hay, straw, horse nuts etc – the land is no longer being used for agriculture. In the same way, if a field has been subdivided into ‘pony’ paddocks or farm buildings have been converted to stables or livery use, this may require permission for change of use.”

New structures usually require planning consent – from new stables to riding arenas, permanent jumps or cross-country courses, or even flood lighting.

Mr Edwards added: “There are exemptions, such as the use of ‘mobile’ field shelters for horses, which do not normally require permission, as long as they are not fixed to the ground and allow the animal free access in and out.

“Temporary uses of land, such as for gymkhanas, jumps in fields or horse shows are also usually allowed, as long as they do not exceed 28 days in a year.”

The CLA has compiled a list of instances where planning permission is usually required:

- Using farm land for equestrian activities such as riding schools or regular exercise and training of horses

- Building of stables, indoor/outdoor riding areas, permanent jumps and other structures related to equestrian activities

- Conversion of farm buildings to equestrian use

Mr Edwards said horse owners need to remember that planning regulations relating to equestrian uses can be more stringent in National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“Horse owners also need to be aware whether they are affected by business rates, which can apply to stables, arenas and fields used for equestrian purposes.

“For those claiming Basic Payment Scheme payments, whilst horse grazing land can remain eligible, care should be taken to ensure that cross compliance rules are adhered to.”

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