Plans for a national equine centre at Stoneleigh Park have moved one step closer to realisation, with outline planning permission for the project granted by Warwickshire County Council.

The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE), which owns Stoneleigh Park, has incorporated the national equine centre into its masterplan to develop the venue. The project is expected to cost around £100 million.

“This is great news for Stoneleigh Park and for the agricultural, equine and rural industries, which will benefit from this facility,” said RASE chief executive Mike Calvert. “[The project will be] a national focus and generator of change for the
British countryside.”

Stoneleigh Park has about 60 tenants, including the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), BSJA, British Eventing and British Dressage. The park hosts the national dressage championships each year and the RASE-run Royal Show, among other events.

The park will retain certain existing facilities and buildings, but some areas are to be totally rebuilt. The equestrian centre is one of the areas to be constructed from scratch, and planned facilities include an indoor arena, two outdoor arenas, permanent stabling for 80 horses, a cross-country course, an on-site farrier and vet centre plus training and education facilities. It is also expected to house the National Equine Database.

“The centre will help Britain compete and succeed on the world stage,” said an RASE spokesman. “It also will encourage closer collaboration between equestrian organisations.”

The plans have now been submitted to the Government Office of the West Midlands for final outline approval. The regional development agency Advantage West Midlands is providing a “substantial” level of funding towards the project — but RASE is also looking for private investors.

The National Farmer’s Union (NFU) has announced that it is to move its headquarters from London to Stoneleigh, and the move heralds the beginning of the changes. Should the RASE receive full planning permission and secure enough funding, it hopes to begin construction work at the end of next year. It envisages that the national equine centre will be completed by 2009.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (24 March ’05)


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