Plans to build a dressage centre in West Sussex have been rejected by the South Downs National Park (SDNP).

Dressage rider Hannah Hurvenes-Clarke, daughter of high goal polo patron Nick Clarke, had submitted an application for change of use of land at her family’s Brackenwood estate near Midhurst.

The proposal also included the building of eight new stables, retention of a barn, horse walker, wash down area, hay store, access track, parking and exercise track.

But officers at the SDNP advised members of the planning committee to reject the plans earlier this month (10 September) on the grounds that the area is a “remote and tranquil location” and “equestrian (uses) harm its character and appearance” causing “noise and disturbance.”

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Malcolm Kilbey, director of Farm and Stables Supplies went to the planning meeting to show his support for the plans for Brackenwood.

Our company would consider it a great loss if the stables had to close. I understood when the South Downs National park was first conceived, that local employment and lifestyles were no in danger of being forced to close. What has changed?” he said.

Objecting to the plans at the meeting chairman of the local parish council Roger Lovett told the committee as reported in the Midhurst and Petworth Observer, the application was “a deliberate invasion of the planning process.”

Mr Clarke was granted planning permission for a full size dressage arena in 2009 but four retrospective applications for development on the site have been turned down.

Hannah Hurvenes-Clarke said she “was disappointed” in the SDNP’s decision not to support the application to save the equestrian facilities at Brackenwood.

“We have a permitted dressage arena on site and so it is difficult to understand why we have not been allowed the necessary stables and storage. 400 homes have been given permission down the road but a barn for horses has been refused because it changes the character of the area? To me that doesn’t make sense,” she said.

The jobs of the six staff employed to look after the horses are now “sadly at risk” following the planning refusal.

But Ms Hurvenes-Clarke said she “still hopes” that some arrangement with the SDNP can be reached.