Equestrian base of high-goal polo team patron faces demolition

  • High-goal polo team patron Nick Clarke is campaigning to save his West Sussex equestrian base from demolition.

    Mr Clarke — who is patron of the Salkeld team — wants to set up a dressage breeding and training base for his daughter, Hannah Hurvenes-Clarke (pictured with her father), at Brackenwood, near Midhurst.

    But the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) has launched legal proceedings to have his facilities torn down.

    In April 2014 he failed a High Court challenge to a decision, which banned him for training polo ponies at the site.

    Mr Clarke has been based at Brackenwood for 15 years, but has had to move his polo ponies to the Cowdray estate following the SDNPA’s objections.

    Planning permission for a full size dressage arena was granted in 2009, and it has been built, but four retrospective applications for development on the site have been declined.

    “We are building a private facility. It’s ridiculous to have permission for an arena but not stables,” Mr Clarke said.

    He said he was “very disappointed” at the SDNPA’s response to his plans.

    A new application has been submitted for change of use of land to mixed agricultural and dressage use, plus eight new stables, retention of a barn, horse walker, wash down area, manure ramp, hay store, access track, parking and exercise track.

    He has set up a support campaign, Save Brackenwood, to urge the SDNPA to lift the threat.

    “It would be devastating to lose the facilities,” Mr Clarke told H&H.

    “We are not proposing to expand or increase the height of our existing facilities. We are asking the SDNPA for permission to keep our facilities and use them for dressage.”

    A spokesman for the SDNPA it will consider the new application “in due course”.

    “Wherever possible we always try to fix breaches in planning through negotiation, but almost everything on this remote and highly sensitive site is unauthorised, does not have planning permission and is therefore subject to enforcement action,” added the spokesman.

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