02 May Scoring Planning Goals!

Given the numbers involved and the Government’s pro-growth agenda set out in the 2012 National Planning Policy framework then surely planning authorities should love equestrian development in general and polo in particular. Alas this is not always the case. There is much confusion in planner’s minds over horses and a sometimes slightly chippy view of the Sport of Kings.

Many planning authorities have no specific policies relating to horses and you are then at the mercy of policy that might refer to rural development or the dreaded catch all policies that unfailingly provide a reason and justification for the answer “NO”.

Potential Handicaps

 So what do you do to make your planning application work?

  • Choose your site with care: poor access, land in flood plains, land with biodiversity interest, land in Green Belt, National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, next to Listed buildings or historic sites will always be more difficult to develop.
  • Check out your neighbours: call in and seen them.
  • Try before you buy: talk to your planning authority or a planner before you commit yourself.
  • Work out a brief: what do you need? How many boxes, what sort of configuration – American Barn or conventional yard? How much tack, rug, hay bedding and other storage do you need?
  • What is to happen to the manure?
  • Where is the lorry to be parked?
  • Do you need stick and ball field/canter track/sand school?
  • Will it all fit on the site?
  • Accommodation: if there is no house then how are you planning to ensure security and welfare?

If the yard is of sufficient size with enough horses it can be shown there is a fulltime job and it can be demonstrated the business is planned on a sound financial basis the planning authority will consider that temporary accommodation is justified.

On the basis this all goes well then there is the possibility of a house to support the equestrian business.

To achieve this, you need to show you are making enough money to support yourself and with some left over to pay for the cost of building the house. The income should be derived from the horses and the land and not from unrelated enterprises that you run.

It does pay to obtain professional help to prepare and submit your application (I would say that, wouldn’t I!) but a good planner will be able to assess how much help you need to jump hurdles including biodiversity, flood risk, impact on the landscape and access (to name but a few).

A well-presented application is needed and if the going gets rough, this is essential for a successful appeal.

This article was published in Polo Times magazine.