National Equine Show – Recap

A couple of weeks ago we had a stand at the National Equine Show at the NEC, Birmingham, where we got to talk to people about their potential developments and planning problems.  Lots of you left your details with us so, if you did, you should have had a follow up email from us in the last day or so confirming our contact details, and the discount offer as a result of the National Equine Show on any instructions within the next 6 months, for whenever you want to get back in touch!

The weekend was a great success for us, and we spoke to people far and wide across the country including in Buckinghamshire, Sussex, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Cheshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire just to name a few.

As a follow-up, we thought we would do an overview of the five most commonly asked questions from the event as well as provide links to varying resources we have prepared over the last twelve months:

1. When can Certificates of Lawfulness be useful?

Certificates of Lawfulness can be utilised for several matters.  Most commonly, in relation to the enquiries we receive, they can be utilised to certify that a planning breach has been undertaken or occurring for long enough so that exceeds the relevant enforcement windows set out within the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  These are currently based upon 4- and 10-year rules respectively with 4 years applying from the substantial completion of building works and 10 years applying to change of use (the most commonly raised matters with existing equestrian development).

If you can achieve these timescales the onus is on you, as the applicant, to evidence that the breach has been occurring and if this can be proven, the Council can issue a Certificate of Lawfulness to confirm that the breach is lawful in planning terms.  However (as we noted at the end of 2023), as a result of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act there will be a change to a flat rate 10-year enforcement window.  At time of writing, we have no further information as to when this will be brought in and whether there will be any transition period for existing breaches up to certain date.

2. How can you find out what is possible before you buy a potential site or piece of Land?

We, as a company, offer development appraisals which a lot of people use pre-purchase to ascertain whether there are any complete showstoppers which would result in your aspirations for the land being unachievable.

In addition to this you do, of course, have the potential to apply to the Council for pre-application advice however, this can have its disadvantages including the fact that it is without prejudice to the determination of an application, it can take some time to get a response due to the current workload of varying Councils and some Councils have, in fact, closed off their pre-application advice service for the time being.

Relevant Link: DEVELOPMENT APPRAISALS – KICK START YOUR PROJECTS FOR 2024! – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy

3. Whether equestrian is a Change of Use?

Horses can, under various pieces of Case Law, be classified as grazing within the definition of agriculture in certain circumstances.  Despite this, it is a very fine line between this and equestrian use and generally speaking, if you are supplementary feeding your horses, rugging them or riding out from the site (or on the site) this would come under the umbrella of equestrian use.  The horses are then being kept on the land rather than living off the land (by surviving on grass eaten in the field).  This would be the most notable point that an equestrian change of use is required, and this is why we generally combine change of use applications with applications for stabling as required.

4. What do you need to submit as part of a planning application?

The validation requirements for applications, which can vary from Local Planning Authority (LPA) to LPA and site to site, can still be extensive depending on your proposals and it is worth being aware of these potential requirements as you embark on your mission to achieve the necessary permissions for your proposals.  All applications require plans.  The remaining requirements largely depend on your site, the proposals and the LPA validation requirements in your area but it is not unusual for applications to require further supporting surveys/reports.  These can include tree surveys, ecological surveys (a preliminary ecological appraisal as a minimum which may highlight a need for further surveys such as those relating to newts or bats), landscaping proposals/landscape assessments, highway engineer reports (especially if there is a new access or intensification of use of an existing access where visibility splays need to be demonstrated) or flood risk assessments (FRA) and drainage reports.

Relevant Link: What goes into a planning application? – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy

5. How can you/can you appeal an existing refusal?

A few of you outlined that you have had a refusal and are not sure as to your next steps.  One of these, within six months (generally) of a refusal is to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, but what does that involve?  Link below to considering an appeal and what is involved.

Relevant Link: Considering an appeal? – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy

As many of you will know, from speaking to us, we don’t just do equestrian planning and we spoke to a number of you on other matters including potential dwellings and house extensions.  This is handled through Eldnar (Eldnar Consultancy), our main consultancy.

If there are any further queries, following on from the conversations we had earlier this month, please do get in touch or respond to the email which you should have received, and we can come back to you with any initial thoughts and/or fee quotes as required to progress any work for you as you wish.