Plans to build new homes adjoining a leading British Horse Society (BHS) training and examination centre in Staffordshire have met with fierce local opposition and may force the centre to close. Ingestre Stables is under threat from a proposed development for holiday lets.

Three-quarters of the 19th-century stableyard and coach house belong to Ingestre’s owners, Tim Downes and Rob Lovatt, while Aaron Chetwynd, who is proposing the development, owns the other quarter. This includes the hay barn, feed barn, stabling for 14 horses, the cross-country paddock and the outdoor school.

Ingestre is one of only two riding schools in the country with two instructing Fellows of the BHS and is also one of only two UK centres to hold exams to International level 3 — the highest level of instruction attainable worldwide, apart from the BHS Fellowship. There are 50 horses giving around 350 lessons per week.

The planning proposal has met stiff opposition locally and, so far, 70 people have written to Stafford Borough Council opposing the plans. Tim Downes said: “Aaron Chetwynd is saying that developing his part of the premises will have no bearing on the school.

“This is not going to happen in the near future because we’re sitting tenants. If he gains planning permission, he can start legal proceedings to terminate the sitting tenancy, but that could take up to two years.”

Rachel Davies, who has been visiting the yard twice a week for eight years, told H&H: “Ingestre has amazing facilities and well-qualified staff. It would be a huge shame if it had to close.”

The BHS echoed these concerns. Spokesman Chris Doran said: “Ingestre is a long-standing BHS approved establishment. It would be a great loss to the community and surrounding area if it were closed.

“We usually have members who cannot gain planning permission for indoor schools. I imagine we’ll hear of more problems like this in the future.”