Ask H&H: equestrian use of green-belt land

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    Q: I would like to change a portion of a large field in green-belt land to a fenced paddock for jumps and exercise and some grazing. It is adjacent to a residence. The rest of the field may be used for grazing.

    Additionally, I would like to build a small permanent stable near to the house, but accessing the paddock. I suspect permission is needed for the stable, but does the green-belt status affect my whole plan?
    JT, Oxon

    The policies controlling development in the countryside apply with equal force in green belts — land that is intended to be kept “open” to prevent urban sprawl.

    But there is an additional presumption against inappropriate green-belt development, as opposed to development that fulfils the green-belt objectives — eg providing access to the open countryside and opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation for the urban population.

    Inappropriate development is only allowed in special circumstances.

    Would stabling be allowed?

    According to Deborah Ceadel, head of the planning team at Darbys solicitors, you would need planning permission for your stable, unless it is constructed within the curtilage of a non-listed dwelling-house.

    “This is subject to restrictions such as the stable’s size, height, proximity to the highway and proximity to the dwelling-house,” she said.

    “You would need planning permission to change the use of part of the field to an area with jumps and may need permission to use the rest of the field for grazing — unless the horses get the majority of their food from the land.

    “If the horses were kept as part of a commercial livery, again you would need planning permission.”

    If in doubt as to whether permission is required, you should check with your local planning authority.

    What is ‘openness’?

    In determining an application, the fact that the site is within the green belt will be an issue, due to the need to preserve openness in such an area.

    “Keeping horses as such would not interfere with ‘openness’, but associated structures would,” said Deborah.

    “However, essential facilities are not deemed inappropriate if they are genuinely required for uses which preserve the openness of the green belt, and do not conflict with the purposes of including the land in it — small stables for riding, for example.

    A set of jumps would not be regarded as ‘essential facilities’ and the issue of whether they interfered with the openness of the green belt would be a factor in determining any application for change of use of the paddock.”


    Darbys, tel: 01865 811772 www.darbys.co.uk

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (29 April, ’10)

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