THE owner of Stag Lodge Riding Stables in Richmond Park, London, has denied the yard is closing down, despite having lodged a planning application to build houses on the Robin Hood Gate site.

Founded in 1790, Stag Lodge was bought by Richard Turner nine years ago. It has around 40 horses and ponies, is approved by the British Horse Society and is a thriving Pony Club centre.

The application — due to be heard this week by Kingston Borough Council — is for three four-bedroom houses.

“I don’t expect to get consent,” Mr Turner explained to H&H during a visit to the site. “I am just trying to increase the value of my property.”

While the application details “demolition of almost all of the stable buildings and practise ring”, Mr Turner maintains his business will remain unaffected.

“We’re about 20-30 per cent down on takings, and we have to do something,” he said. “But the horses aren’t going anywhere.”

One concerned local rider contacted H&H.

“It is the only riding school with direct access to Richmond Park without the need to ride on a public highway,” she said.

Other stables in the area say that, rather than noticing a downturn in business, more people than ever have been riding over the Christmas period.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (15 January, ’09)