Joshua Hellawell explains the rules and offers his top tips for securing planning permission for equestrian facilities.
As with most developments, planning permission will be required if you are thinking of building a permanent equestrian facility, such as stables or an arena.
Some agricultural structures are covered by what is called ‘permitted development rights’ which means planning permission is not required – equestrian facilities are unfortunately not given this status.
As such, under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, landowners must apply to their local council for approval for any development which includes (for instance) building, engineering as well as some other activities.
Get people on side early in the process
There are two main groups to win over to your side with any planning application – neighbours who may object to the application, and the planning authority itself.
Therefore, I always recommend that everyone puts in the research early on before submitting their planning application for equestrian facilities and stables.
We always recommend making contact with your local planning department and try and attempt a brief introduction. They may also have some important documentation such as guidance for you to follow, and a friendly chat at this stage can go a long way.
Get the right help
Depending on the size and nature of such developments, we would advocate that applicants seek specialist advice. Planning consultants, for example are well versed in speaking to local authority planning departments and can have those all-important conversations on your behalf.
Next you’ll need to submit your application. This is done either via a special online planning portal or in paper format to your local planning authority. You’ll also need to submit the correct fee and necessary supporting documents at this stage. Again, engaging an experienced town planner to do this for you can save you a lot of time and money in the long-run.
The process will now take around six to eight weeks, including a consultation stage when your neighbours may also be consulted – which is why it’s important to keep them up-to-date with what you are planning from as early a stage as possible. Next you should receive an answer from the local authority, whether your application has been granted or refused. There may be some amendments to the application requested by the authority.
Resist the temptation to break the rules
The planning process may seem complex, but it exists for a good reason, and should be followed to the letter.
There are severe penalties for those who ignore the planning legislation. We’ve all seen the news stories of structures put up without permission resulting in landowners receiving a large fine and being forced to pull down the offending building.
The equestrian sector is certainly not exempt and while it is sometimes possible to obtain retrospective planning permission for a development if it has been put up without the necessary approvals, don’t rely on this.
Make sure that you do plenty of research or ask for help when looking to apply for planning permission. We always advise that landowners should be realistic in their application and as thorough as possible – forgetting things at this stage can cause problems further down the line.
Working with planners instead of against them is much more likely to result in an approval, so never be rude, and always look at previous developments in the area to see how their owners have worked to be sympathetic to other buildings.