A Devon farmer is looking to diversify with ambitious plans for a top-class equestrian venue. If successful, his dream of opening an international-sized indoor arena will take prime position outside the village of Pyworthy, near Holsworthy.

Local dairy farmer Irving Cleave (pictured) said he hoped to submit a formal application for the project — Great Knowle Equestrian Centre — to Torridge District Council this month.

While Cleave stressed he had not closed the door on dairy farming — a family tradition dating back at least three generations — he felt it was time to diversify and try something new.

He said part-funding was in the pipeline from government, National Lottery and European Union grants.

“Since foot-and-mouth, Holsworthy has been forgotten and it’s about time we put it back on the map,” said Cleave. “I can’t say how much the whole project will cost, but it is in the millions.”

He said a full range of equestrian disciplines would be staged at the centre, together with training and open days, and non-equestrian events like football and basketball.

Richard Brown from Holsworthy town council backed the scheme, believing a lot of people in the area felt the same way. The only concerns covered traffic and congestion.

Cleave said a public meeting at Pyworthy village hall was planned for 11 November, after which he hoped Torridge District Council would debate the plan in early December.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (3 November, ’05)

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