Horse owner fined more than £12,000 after building stables on her land

  • An owner who was taken to court after building stables and keeping horses on her land in a National Park without permission has been fined £12,000 and ordered to remove them.

    On 4 September Jane Soul, 65, of Eastleigh, Hampshire, appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court where she was found guilty of breaching three planning notices.

    In 2013 Ms Soul was served with enforcement notices by South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) ordering her to remove stables and stop keeping horses on land in Privett, South Downs National Park.

    A spokesman for East Hampshire District Council said Ms Soul initially complied with the notices, but between 2016 and 2020 she started to “redevelop the site with new, larger stables and new hard surfacing”.

    Credit: East Hampshire District Council

    “She then purchased further land to the south of the site and placed a residential style caravan and shipping container with a catchment tank. The caravan was fitted with mains water connection, drainage, and had gas connected for heat and cooking. More shelters were erected and she continued to keep horses on the site,” he said.

    “As a result, planning enforcement officers, working on behalf of the South Downs National Park Authority, issued a further order in 2021, ordering her to remove the development.”

    The judge said Ms Soul’s actions “showed a deliberate failure to comply with the planning authority and that the requirements of the notices were crystal clear.”

    In mitigation it was put forward that there was “no financial benefit from the developmental ambition beyond caring for horses” and that Miss Soul had received “contradictory advice” about what could be done. A new planning consultant is due to assist Miss Soul moving forwards and look to work with the council to find ways in which the land can be lawfully used.

    Councillor Angela Glass, East Hampshire District Council’s portfolio holder for regulation and enforcement said the council is “going to be tough” on people who breach its planning rules.

    “We have reinforced our planning enforcement team to protect the rural areas and countryside of East Hampshire from harmful development,” she said.

    “This has been a long-running case but our enforcement teams don’t give up lightly. I am very pleased we have managed to bring this case to court and the council has successfully prosecuted the offenders.”

    Tim Slaney, director of planning at SDNPA, added that the National Park was designated for its “wonderful landscape and natural beauty, to be enjoyed by the whole nation”.

    “In order to protect this treasured area that brings so many benefits to both nature and people, we need to be tough when planning rules are so blatantly ignored and real damage is done,” he said.

    “I would like to commend the East Hampshire team for their persistence and resilience in achieving this successful outcome.”

    Ms Soul was ordered to pay more than £12,000 in fines and costs and must return the site to its original condition.

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