ONE of Britain’s premier cross-country schooling facilities, Boomerang Stables, is under threat following complaints about traffic volume from local residents.

The venue in Chilton Folait, near Hungerford, Berkshire — used by leading riders like Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt — has had a second application for retrospective planning permission rejected.

Kennet District Council has told proprietor Russ Hardy, an Australian international event rider and farrier, that the stable has no public access rights and that four permanent fences alter the landscape in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

“The loss of public access will affect us extremely badly — we will end up with what is no more than a very expensive livery yard,” said Mr Hardy, who is preparing to apply to the council for planning consent for the third time.

They must prove the land has been in commercial use for more than 10 years.

“We have been here since 2000, but we need to prove competitions were held here from 1998,” said Mr Hardy.

They also must prove that the permanent fences have been in position for more than four years.

Constructed on the site of a stud farm previously owned by Mark Phillips’ wife Sandy, Boomerang boasts a 40-acre cross-country schooling facility, two outdoor and one indoor arena.

“The facilities are superb and if the course closes it would be a huge loss,” said international event rider Clare Chamberlayne. “People come from all over to use it.”

But local residents have complained the success and the frequency of competitions has resulted in an unacceptable growth of equestrian traffic using narrow access lanes.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (23 October, ’08)