A new equestrian centre in Somerset looks set to open next spring, adding much-needed cross-country facilities to the area.
Planning applications are being processed for a cross-country course, a 50mx70m arena and stabling at Chewton Field Farm, near Ston Easton.
The venture, to be known as Mendip Plains Equestrian Centre, will cost around £250,000.
Farmer Duncan Green, who runs the 40-acre site, said that the planning process was “very positive”.
“The planners like our proposal because it will create employment and there is a need [for the venue], as there is a lack of cross-country courses around here,” said Mr Green, who will manage the centre with his wife Jane and daughter Hannah.
He listed Pontispool and Stockland Lovell as the nearest comparable centres, which are both 75min drive away.
Area 14 Pony Club representative Louly Thornycroft welcomed the idea of a new course in the region, which is Mendip Farmers territory.
“We always need more places for training and competing, and that area is certainly quite far from other eventing venues,” she said. “There is Rosamund Green Farm, which is great for schooling, but it doesn’t run competitions.”
Celia Drewett, district commissioner for the Mendip Farmers Hunt branch, said: “It will be very nice to have something in the area — we don’t really have any cross-country competitions close by.
“We already use the farm on a private basis with the Greens, and hope the centre will go ahead.”
Although the Greens plan to start with Pony Club and unaffiliated events at 80cm, 90cm and 1.10m, they are aiming for a high-quality course, with ambitions to host British Eventing horse trials in the future.
The course is being designed by Eric Winter, who also designs Blenheim CCI***.
However, neighbours have been objecting to the application, on the grounds that it will bring too much traffic through the village of Ston Easton.
But all vehicles will be directed straight from the A39, with just 100m drive to the site. This route does not go through the village.
“I think I’ve been reasonable, and I explained the situation to the neighbours before submitting the application,” said Mr Green.
“Hannah is the fourth generation of our family to live in this village and you don’t mess on your own doorstep.”