A couple of weeks ago we had a stand at Your Horse Live, Stoneleigh, where we got to talk to people about their potential developments and, sadly, some of your on-going planning problems.  Lots of you left your details with us so, if you did, you should have had a follow up email from us last week confirming our contact details, and the discount offer as a result of Your Horse Live 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 Dorset, Huddersfield, Sussex, Devon, Herefordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire, Leicester, 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. Can you obtain planning permission in areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and National Parks?

The honest answer is that planning in these areas can certainly be trickier as they are arguably more sensitive to development.  Planning in these areas can take a little more thought as to design, positioning, and general suitability of the proposal within the surrounding area taking into account the fact that these sites are notable for their distinctive character and exceptional beauty or are protected by law for the benefit of the Nation.

  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.  This is, however, about to change as, 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.

  1. 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 2023! – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy

  1. What are the main considerations, in planning terms, when applying for an equestrian arena?

Planning for arenas comes under the umbrella, in planning terms, of engineering operations and the main considerations are size and topography (whether there will be any ground works required), whether there would be any ecological or tree constraints as a result of the construction and general siting within the landscape and proximity to other development.

One of the most commonly asked questions we have is relating to lighting and lighting is, generally, conditioned to ensure that it is appropriate and that any lighting does not spill beyond the area it is supposed to illuminate and cause disturbance to neighbouring properties or undue visual impact within the wider area.

In addition, if your arena is part of a commercial set up, potential levels of use and access would be key from the point of view of highway safety.

Relevant useful links:

ALL ABOUT ARENAS – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy


Guest Article – Considering access to your development – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy

  1. 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.

We did an article on this within the current edition (Autumn/Winter) of the Yard Supplement – The Yard Supplement Autumn Winter 2023 (

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 glamping/camping sites on farms as well as potential dwellings and rural worker’s dwellings under the exceptions of the relevant Local Plans depending on your area.  This is handled through Eldnar Consultancy (Eldnar Consultancy), our main consultancy.

So, if this has got you thinking – apart from the links for varying articles above we also did a Podcast earlier this year which discusses all things equestrian planning (EQUESTRIAN PLANNING – NEW PODCAST APPEARANCE – The Equestrian Planning Consultancy)  – ideal for listening to when you are mucking out in the mornings!

If there are any further queries, following on from the conversations we had a couple of weeks ago, 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.

Our next, in person, event will be at the National Equine Show at the NEC, Birmingham in March – come and say hello!