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Planning permission for stable blocks and manèges

If you are considering building a stable, stable block or manège for either personal or business use, you will need to get planning permission from your local planning authority. Victoria Longmore, a planning law expert in Lodders’ Rural Sector team, looks at the issues and gives some useful tips to securing this type of planning permission.

Planning permission is required for any permanent equestrian construction including stables, a permanent field shelter, or an arena, and it may even be required to simply keep horses/ponies in a field. Planning is managed by government and local planning authorities with the primary aim of guiding and managing how towns, cities and the countryside are used and developed. Planning permission covers the use of land and buildings, the design and appearance of buildings, as well as access to them and the impact on the local environment. In addition, planning legislation exists to ensure any buildings and constructions are safe and comply with all associated regulations.

Town and Country Planning Act 1990

The specific law that applies to the planning regime in England and Wales is the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Under the Act planning permission is required for ‘any development on land’ which includes the ‘carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations, in, on, over or under the land or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or land’. In some circumstances, deemed planning permission is granted under the provisions of the General Permitted Development Order.

Planning laws must, therefore, be considered by all equestrian landowners whether you are simply keeping horses/ponies in a field or you are looking to develop your equine facilities.

Is planning permission required for keeping horses in a field?

Whilst planning legislation may appear not to be relevant as no development per se is required, the keeping of a horse in a field can constitute a change of use from ‘agricultural’ to ‘recreational’ which does require planning permission. The term ‘agricultural use’ includes the breeding and keeping of livestock and the use of land for grazing. What this means is, if horses are kept on the land for the primary purpose of grazing and for example are not fed any supplement feeds, or are kept for the sole purposes of breeding, then its likely planning permission will not be needed, as the use will most likely be deemed agricultural.

However, the opposite is also true. So where horses are kept in a field but the primary purpose is not for grazing because for example, they are fed supplement feeds as they are for recreational use, then planning permission may technically be required as it is likely to represent a material change in the use of the land.

Planning permission for stables and manèges

Structures for keeping recreational horses are not covered by the same permitted development rights as those that apply to agricultural holdings, so planning permission is highly likely to be necessary for any new permanent structures, including wooden field shelters and stables.

One such case in Wales saw a Mr Redman fined by Carmarthenshire County Council for erecting two mobile field shelters on hard standing without planning permission – he had to pay £1,230 for his oversight and lack of planning permission, which demonstrates how seriously local planning authorities take this type of planning breach.

In deciding whether to grant planning permission, a local planning authority must make the decision in accordance with the local development plan and with up to date government planning policy – The National Planning Policy Framework or NPPF – which must be considered where relevant to the planning application.

Therefore, it is important to remember that the NPPF promotes a prosperous rural economy, so it is sensible to clearly identify, within your planning application, any business or rural benefit that will be derived. 

Whilst the Planning Legislation can be complicated it actually plays a very important role in helping to protect the environment in which we all live, work and play, including our villages, towns, cities and the countryside, and landowners that ignore the legislation do so at their peril. If your Local Planning Authority considers that a development contravenes their own planning requirements, they are entitled to take enforcement action against the owner(s) of the building or land, with the ultimate sanction of having the development taken down and removed and sadly I have seen such cases being enforced.

Top tips for securing planning permission

  • Enter into early dialogue with the local planning authority.
  • Remember to plan well in advance. The planning application process may take longer than you think. The statutory deadline for determining an application is 8 weeks (13 weeks for major developments).
  • Speak with any neighbours that may be affected by the proposals. Early engagement may prevent objections, and do demonstrate where any concessions have been made to accommodate their concerns in your final application.
  • Be flexible with your design and location. Making amendments to the design or location may be the difference between obtaining consent and having an application refused.
  • Consider using professionals to assist with the application – e.g. experienced architects and planning consultants.
  • Be aware of the costs involved – planning application fees are based on the size of the floorspace of a structure, whether a stable or manège.
  • Emphasise the benefits of your proposal – such as if the new facility brings job creation for the local community, if and how it is supporting the local economy, is fulfilling a local need, and particularly if the construction itself will use any local businesses when it is being built and also when completed.

Remember Building Regulations

  • It is important to remember that building regulations’ approval may also be required. Whilst a small, private stable may not require consent, stables used for a business or for a riding school will require consent.
  • The purpose of the Regulations is to ensure that new buildings meet standards relating to health and safety, welfare, convenience and sustainability, so have these aspects firmly in mind.
  • It is advisable to check with local building regulations department if these will apply to your plans.

For specialist planning advice for your equestrian property or developments, please contact Victoria Longmore on 01789 206119 or by email .

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Get in touch

For specialist planning advice for your equestrian property or developments, please contact Victoria Longmore on 01789 206119 or drop her an email.