The article below was written by Gill Davies of Martin Collins Arenas. It answers the questions sent in by website visitors and gives invaluable information on this complicated subject. As Gill says at the beginning of the article, “All your questions illustrate the mine-field you unwittingly enter if you are considering installing new stables or an arena and you do not have a planning advisor.” She goes on to say “Sadly there is NOT a single web page which will provide all the answers regarding the planning requirements for an arena.” So, to find out what you need to know and do, read on:
All your questions illustrate the mine-field you unwittingly enter if you are considering installing new stables or an arena and you do not have a planning advisor. Whilst you do not have to appoint a professional, the larger projects are likely to require environmental statements, and any objections from neighbours will need to be addressed. Sadly there is NOT a single web page which will provide all the answers regarding the planning requirements for an arena.
- “Please could you let me know where I can find the building regulations that apply to Equestrian all weather arenas? I have tried phoning a couple of Planning Offices and they all just dodge the question. I want to read what is actually applicable to all weather arenas.”
A: You asked about Building Regulations that apply to the construction of an arena. In short, they are not any as Building Regulations apply to buildings only. However your application for planning consent must include the proposed method of construction, (this is usually a cross section drawing which arena specialists, such as Martin Collins can provide.) The cross section will detail the depth and type of materials to used and also the earth works, ie cut and fill (needed to make a level “formation”. Ie create a level pad that this large enough for the arena and surrounding drains).
It is very important that the cross section details the depth and type of drains being installed and how the surplus/waste water will be managed, eg a soakaway or connected to existing drains. Note, if your soil has a high clay content, then a soakaway will not be suitable, and you will need drains to take away the water. Planning is unlikely to be approved if surplus water is being directed towards a boundary with an out-flow on to the road – as this will become a high risk factor for unsafe road conditions during the winter months and could also lead to localised flooding.
Additional information about Building Regulations.
Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.
Therefore Building regulations would apply if you were building stables or an indoor arena, in addition to planning permission, which is required for an outdoor arena.
If you are considering construction of stables, an indoor school or an entire complex, you will need to apply for planning consent and comply with the building regulations. However for building work, such as internal alterations, Buildings Regulations approval will probably be needed, but Planning permission may not be. If you are in any doubt you should contact your Local Planning Authority or a Building Control Body.
If you are undertaking a large development , ie a new training yard, with accommodation, you or your contract may need to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and may have other duties as well under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007). Although a domestic client does not have duties under CDM 2007, those who work for them on construction projects will. Also see http://www.fdean.gov.uk/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=6430&tt=graphic Or your local councils web site.
- “Why do we have to apply for planning permission?”
A: Planning is managed by government and local authorities to prevent urban sprawl and to manage public services/transport links. Planning seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes the use of land & buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment. Planning also ensures that buildings are safe and comply with the ever increasing safety and environmental regulations.
In respect of equestrian (stables/arena/walker), any ground works on land that falls outside the curtilage** of your garden, and requires “footings” (foundation stone and drains, or a concrete slab, or even a layer a road plainings) will require planning consent.
However, there are some field shelter suppliers, who advise that planning consent is not necessary, if the shelter has skids attached, so it can be moved by your Land Rover. However it you position the shelter on a pad of road plainings, (ie have a permanent location), then planning will also be required. The rule of thumb, relates to “ease of actual” (not possible movement). If the shelter is seldom/never moved, you are likely to receive a letter from your local planning office requesting its removal and/or a retrospect application for its use. The same rules also apply to show and cross country jumps.
** If your garden is big enough and the proposed structure (stables/arena/walker) fulfils the criteria for “permitted developments”, (“The Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995”) such as not building in front of the existing building line, the eaves of the building will not exceed the maximum etc. You will need to speak with your local planning office regarding the specifics on each and every case. In any event you are strongly advised that you lodge the plans with the local planning office anyway, as it may prove to be difficult to sell the property if this is subsequently queried and you do not have a record of correspondence.
You also need to be aware of the current status of your land. Grazing land is typically classed as “agricultural land”. For more info see ALC: revised guidelines and criteria for grading the quality of agricultural land (PDF) (2.5 MB)
- “What regulations apply (i.e. what statute? What Local Government mandate?)”
A: Planning policy is set nationally (by central government for England), there may also be a regional plan, which allows for road, rail, hospitals, schools and other services. While planning at the local level is implemented by local councils with consultation via parish councils/wards.
NATIONAL PLANNING POLICIES
The Government’s planning policies are mainly set out in Planning Policy Guidance notes – known as PPGs. These guidance notes are principally aimed at local planning authorities and influence how they regard planning applications. PPG7 provides policy guidance on the countryside, including agricultural development and farm diversification, but other PPGs may also be relevant.
REGIONAL PLANNING GUIDANCE
Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) provides a regional strategy within which local authority development plans (and local transport plans) can be prepared. RPG sets out a broad development strategy for each region over a fifteen to twenty year period and identifies the scale and distribution of provision for new housing and priorities for such matters as the environment, transport, economic development, minerals and waste disposal, as well as agriculture.
Local authority development plans set out the land use policies and land allocations for the authority’s area. The plan provides the basis for rational and consistent planning decisions by explaining what types of development are likely to be permitted and which will not, across or in different parts of the plan area. If you are thinking of seeking planning permission, you should check the development plan for your area to see which policies may be relevant to your proposals. Your local planning authority will be able to advise you about this. Development plans may be inspected at a local authority’s planning department and at main libraries.
In formulating their planning policies, local planning authorities must have regard to any regional planning guidance and to current national policies. But the plan-making process provides full opportunities for public consultation. Planning authorities must consult widely on development plan proposals and must take the views of interested parties into account. The public and businesses are encouraged to become involved in preparing the plans so that they can have a say in how their area is developed. http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/
While Government policy aims to minimise the loss of farmland, particularly the best and most versatile land (grades 1, 2 and 3a), it also recognises the need for a positive approach towards a more diverse rural economy. Therefore you do not require planning permission for agricultural operations or for the use of existing buildings on agricultural land for agricultural purposes. However horses are not considered as agricultural! For this reason, care should be taken if you are considering the purchase of a property with an “agricultural tie” (Ag-Tag), as you may not fulfill the criteria if you a solely equestrian based business. Specialist and individual advice should be sought.
Other development restrictions may apply depending upon the scale/scope of the project, if the proposed site is within:
• National Parks, The Broads and the New Forest
• Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
• Sites of Special Scientific Interest
• Green Belts
National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Within National Parks, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads, the New Forest Heritage Area and
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, planning authorities pay particular attention to design,
appearance and location to ensure that developments are in harmony with their surroundings.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Where an application is for development in, or close to, and likely to affect an SSSI, the
planning authority will consult English Nature. You may find it helpful to talk to this body first and discuss any concerns it may have about your proposals. English Nature has local teams stationed around the country (check your local phone directory), and may also be contacted at its national office on tel: 01733 455000
If your proposed site is declared an SSI,you may find “special conditions” applied, such as a “watching brief” during earthworks – in the case of rare/historical finds. (During construction works on the main arena at Windsor Castle, which is used for the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the Dual Show Jumping and Dressage Europeans in 2008, there was a watching brief for historical remains – none were found.) Protected wild life can also cause delays, as Crested newts and bats are protected – therefore if they use the proposed site, you may have special conditions, such as “bat boxes” and alternative water sources must be provided before the earth works can commence.
Green Belts have been established around major built-up areas in England to contain urban sprawl. The boundaries are defined in development plans. The essential characteristic of a Green Belt is its permanence. Development is normally restricted to agriculture, forestry, outdoor sport and outdoor recreation and other uses of land which preserve the openness of Green Belt land. The use of an existing building for alternative purposes may be possible, as the building is already there and will not affect the openness of the area. Further guidance can be found in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2 (PPG2)
Locally, too, there may be special planning policies to protect areas which are of particular landscape or wildlife value. To find out if your project would be in an area with special planning policies, ask your local planning authority, or look at the relevant development plan. Some farm buildings have great heritage value, which the local planning authority would take into account when considering a planning application. Listed building consent or conservation area consent may also be necessary.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a formal procedure for ensuring that the potential impact on the environment of certain new development and changes to land use are fully considered before the development begins. Your local planning authority will advise if EIA is required.
The local planning authority considers the environmental effects of a proposed development, usually in reaching a decision on a planning application. A EIA will not normally be required for most smaller scale development but is mandatory for certain developments, eg A new equestrian complex – (see below – planning application with EIA). Smaller projects (ie an outdoor arena will normally require EIA only if they are likely to have significant environmental effects.)
In reaching its decision, the planning authority will also take account of;
- national policy guidance government
- Other “material considerations” such as size, layout, siting, design, external appearance, the proposed means of access, landscaping, impact on the neighbourhood, effects on roads, water and other services
Government planning policies used to be laid out in Planning Policy Guidance notes. These have been replaced by Planning Policy Statements. For more info visit, http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/
In particular see, The Government’s rural land use planning policy is laid out in Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas.
Further advice : Planning Aid, a booklet available from the Royal Town Planning Institute (telephone 0121 693 1201) gives details of a free, voluntary service offering independent professional advice and help on planning. It is aimed at individuals, community groups and other voluntary groups who cannot afford to pay for private planning consultants. More information about Planning Aid can be found on the RTPI website.
Don’t rush ahead with ill-considered and poorly prepared proposals.
Don’t place too much weight on advice (eg., from family of friends) about how to obtain
planning permission unless it is confirmed by the planning authority or professional sources.
Don’t rely on hearsay or assumptions (eg., ‘a neighbour has planning permission for a similar
development, therefore I should get permission for my proposal’).
Do contact your local planning authority they can tell you what type of developments are more likely to be acceptable in planning terms.
Don’t assume that any indication of your chances of obtaining planning permission that a
planning officer might be prepared to give you prior to the submission of an application, will
automatically be reflected in the final decision by the planning authority.
Don’t expect an instant decision – you should allow at least eight weeks from the submission
of your planning application, unless the planning authority has indicated otherwise.
Don’t proceed with any development works without first checking with your local authority
about the need for planning permission (or for any other forms of consent), and until any
necessary permission and other consents have been given.
Do consider your ideas and options carefully, take time to prepare and plan your
development proposals properly, and allow sufficient time for the process as a whole.
Do consider what effect your proposals might have on local amenity, the landscape and the
environment, and on local services such as roads.
Do talk to your local planning authority – usually your local council – about your proposals;
check whether you need planning permission and, if so, what local planning policies might be
relevant to your proposals.
Do consult any neighbours or others who may be affected by your proposals, and your
elected local councillor(s).
Do consider whether you might need professional advice and assistance (eg., from planning
consultants, land agents, surveyors) to prepare your planning application, particularly if your
proposals involve large-scale or complex building development.
Do find out whether you are eligible for free planning consultancy advice under the Rural
Enterprise Scheme administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Do take account of all the advice and comments you receive, be prepared to amend your
original ideas if necessary, and try to frame your proposals to bring out the positive impact
they will have (eg., improving the appearance of a run-down building, providing new
employment opportunities, or facilities for the local community).
Do ensure that you present a clear and accurate planning application with supporting plans,
covering all the points likely to be of concern to the planning authority.
Do respond positively and helpfully to any requests from the planning authority for further
information; be prepared to be flexible in adapting your proposals to meet any concerns of
If your planning application is refused, do try to discuss the proposals with the planning
officer to see if the planning authority’s concerns can be overcome, before you consider
whether to appeal.
- “Where can one appeal re an adverse decision?”
A: If your planning application is refused, you have two options for further action: you can
refine your proposal and try again with the local planning authority, or you can appeal against its decision.
Option 1 – Try Again. The local planning authority must give written reasons for refusing planning permission. You may wish to talk again to the planning officers to establish if an amended proposal might succeed. There is normally no additional fee to pay if you reapply within 12 months of the decision with a similar project which has been changed only marginally. Bear in mind that if a similar application for the same site has been refused by the Secretary of State on appeal or following ‘call-in’, the planning authority may decline to consider a fresh application in the following two years, unless there has been a significant change in any material consideration.
Option 2 – Your Right to Appeal. You have the right to appeal to the First Secretary of State (at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) if the planning authority:
• refuse planning permission;
• impose conditions you cannot or do not wish to accept;
• fail to make a decision within eight weeks of receiving your application, or whatever extended period you have agreed with them.
(While third parties can make known their views on your appeal, they have no right of appeal against any decision to grant you planning permission).
You should regard the appeal system as a last resort. An appeal will enable your
proposal to be examined again, usually by an independent Planning Inspector appointed by the First Secretary of State. (Note that if you appeal against one or more conditions, the Inspector will look afresh at the whole permission). Appeals are decided on land use planning considerations only (for example, whether or not the development is appropriate to a Green Belt), and will be determined in accordance with the local development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
If you want to appeal do not delay. You only have six months in which to appeal, either from the date of the decision, or the date by which the planning authority should have made their decision. But before you exercise that right, consider talking to the planning officers to see whether the situation might be resolved by negotiation. This approach may provide a quicker solution.
Most appeals are handled in writing and take about 18 weeks to determine. Some are determined by an informal hearing before a Planning Inspector; this type of appeal usually takes up to 24 weeks. A few appeals are determined after a public inquiry, which often takes around 40 weeks.
Further information visit http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/
Getting outside help – Just as time spent preparing the original application is important, time spent preparing an appeal is also critical. Professional advice is available for the preparation of planning appeals. A consultant’s expertise and knowledge of the planning system helps them see your application through the planning authority’s eyes. They are working on your behalf and will be able to advise on the chances of making a successful appeal, but they cannot guarantee you success. There is no obligation to seek help in this way – you can, if you wish, conduct the appeal yourself, even if it involves appearing at a local inquiry.
There is no fee for making an appeal, but you will inevitably incur some expenses in presenting your case (for example, a consultant will charge for preparing and presenting your case if you decide to employ one). The cost will depend on the procedure to be followed and on the complexity of the case.
Where there is an inquiry or hearing, costs may be awarded for unreasonable behaviour by either party, for example, failure to submit documents or attend a meeting. It would, however, have to be shown that unnecessary costs had been incurred as a result of this behaviour. An award of appeal costs is not made on the basis of who ‘wins’ the appeal.
The Appeal decision. The outcome of your appeal will depend only on the planning merits of your case. Just over a third of all planning appeals are successful. The decision is final and can be challenged only on legal grounds in the High Court. The High Court cannot decide your case; it can only uphold the decision or quash it and require the Secretary of State to consider your case again.
Appeals to the High Court must be made within six weeks of the date on the letter giving the
decision on your appeal. If you have appealed against conditions, the Inspector may decide to change or remove them, change other conditions that you have not challenged, add further conditions, or even take away your permission completely. However, in the latter case, or where it is proposed to add stricter conditions, you will be given the opportunity to withdraw your appeal and keep the planning authority’s permission and its conditions.
- “From what I have heard (no direct proof) Local planners appear to be playing God over this issue and I would like to know exactly where I stand.”
A: If you do not believe the planning department have acted within their remit, and you wish to appeal, in our experience, having representation by a experienced consultant who specialists in equestrian applications is vital. Search on google under “Equestrian planning consultants”.
- “What are the major pitfalls that can arise and that I should look out for when either building or getting an arena built?”
A: Quantity and quality of the materials used. For the base layer (stone drainage blanket), it is VITAL that “clean, hard, angular stone****” is used. The stone layer should be 6” (150mm) compacted depth when laid, ideally the stone blanket should extend 50cm beyond the fence/kick boards so the perimeter drain is laid outside the school – this means run off from adjacent paddocks is caught in a drain before it affects the school, also the outside track typically has the heaviest “foot fall” (use), therefore the drainage pipe (4-6” dia corrugated pipe with small holes in the ribs), is less likely to collapse if horses/tractors are not constantly passing over it.
The stone layer gives the arena foundations/rigidity, which is especially important if built on difficult ground, such as heavy clay or light sand. Be cautious if your contractor does not specify the grade/quantity or depth of the materials being laid – clearly if less stone is used, it will be cheaper…. In our view, 4” layer of stone is not sufficient, but some contractors will reduce the specification and price in order to win the work… We would recommend having a 40m x 20m arena built to last – rather than having a 60m x 20m school built to a poor standard that will fail.
****Clean = means the stone has been washed so stone dust/fine soil (fines) is not washed straight in to your drains, causing reduced flow of surplus water.
****Hard – means the stones are frost resistant, i.e. will not break down after successive winters, or fracture due to the weight of maintenance machinery. Hard stone is either granite or carboniferous limestone. Do NOT use soft limestone (oothlitic) – the quarry can always provide a “technical data sheet” upon request. A layman’s test is to take two stones and bang them together, they should not dust, crack or break – if they do, they are not frost resistant. For the same reason, re-cycled stone needs to be carefully checked, and builder’s rubble is not suitable for the drainage layer.
****Angular = stones need to inter-link together, so they need to be of similar size, typically 40-75mm, and angular. If the stone is rounded it will never “knit” together, so the surface will never be correctly compacted if the base layer moves.
Drains. There should be at least one drain across the school and one on the perimeter, on all sides. If the ground is heavy clay, additional cross drains, (every 5-6 m) will be preferable of 4” dia, and the exterior drains may be increased to 6” dia. It is important that the drain runs have a consistent fall (usually between 1-50 – 1-100). If the drainage runs (trenches) are up and down (like a dogs hind leg), do not lay the pipe and pea shingle (fine small pebbles, that are “hard”), which hold the pipe in position. The tops of all the trenches should be covered with a fine grade (eg 140gsm) non woven geotextile membrane which will let the water pass in to the drains, but prevent silt/sediment. Note; if you purchase unwashed sand for the surface, the silt (clay dust) content is likely to be high, which could lead to the membrane getting blocked. Whilst this is not desirable, this is far less expensive than installing new drains…..
Fencing posts should always be concreted in, as they need to support the retaining boards, which need to be strong enough to withstand the surface being packed against them and being “bashed” by the maintenance machine and surface groomer/ or roller.
Time of year. If possible have the arena constructed in the summer or during a dry period. Clay in particular needs to be carefully managed, especially during earthworks, such as “cut and fill”, so “clay heave” does not occur.
Cut and fill, is the process of cutting in to a bank, and re-laying the material lower down the bank to create a “level formation”. It is necessary to allow for the banks/batters to be created to support the new formation, which are usually 1:2 fall.
Clay could heave, when it is wet and under pressure, which causes it “bubble up”, this can move the stone layer and membranes, leading to contamination of the surface and poor drainage. Should this occur, remedial works will be required.
- “Having looked at many websites involving arena construction the volume of 40mm stone varies from 200 tonne to over 340 tonne why is this?”
A: I suspect this is due to a variety of reasons
- depth of stone layer, the recommended depth of stone is 6” (150mm), especially for difficult ground, such as heave clay. Some contractors will reduce the specification to win the work, and propose a 4” layer of stone (100mm).
- Some contractors do not put drainage trenches on the outside of the arena, which means they require less stone, however the external drains stop the “run off” from adjacent paddocks – so this is especially important if the arena has been cut into the slope.
- Size of the school, a 60m x 20m arena needs 50% more stone than a 40m x 20m school.
- “What qualifications/membership of professional bodies do arena builders need to conform to?”
A: Currently there is not a code of conduct or a professional body for arena installers. Martin Collins has approached Claire Williams at BETA regarding this. Our advice is to take up references and visit the site, also read the quotation and specification documentation carefully. Inspect the works daily – if you are not happy discuss this with the contractor immediately.
All goods and services sold, must confirm to the “sale of goods act”, and so must be fit for purpose. For more information see http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/sale-of-goods/understanding-the-sale-of-goods-act/
- “What specific questions should I ask when searching for my builder and what are the ‘tell tale’ signs that they are reputable?”
A: References should be freely offered.
Be cautious if they demand payment in full before the works commence (this could indicate cash flow problems). It is not unreasonable for the contractor to require a deposit and stage payments. If you are still concerned – why not suggest payment in to an “escrow account”, this shows the contractor that you are able to make the payment, and the funds will be released once key mile stones (stages) are reached.
Ask them for an example where there was a problem and how it was resolved. Remember there are always two sides to every story.
Ask your friends and family for advice, who would they use? Have they heard good or bad reports?
You get what you pay for. You need experienced machine operators to create a level formation. “Have a go Joe’s” usually discover this is not as easy as it looks, a little like plastering or decorating a wedding cake.
If you are not satisfied, speak with your contractor, and formally advise him that you are not happy with x or y. Hopefully he will under take remedial works to your satisfaction. Should matters escalate, you may need to consult an “expertise witness”, whose specialist advice holds merit in a court of law – but hopefully this will not be necessary.
10. “Is it a problem to have my arena build on a ‘fall’?”
Yes, unless the arena’s drainage blanket is not 100% level, the riding surface will NOT behave as consistently, and there is a high change that the surface, especially if dry (not wax coated) will migrate to the “low end” of the school. Over time the separation layer (usually membrane in a small/private school) will be exposed, and if this is damaged by the surface grooming equipment, of by horses hooves disturbing stones, on to their “edges” you are likely to get holes, and surface will become contaminated with base stone. Your drainage layer is also likely to suffer due to surface falling into the “voids” between the stone.
It used to be custom and practice to build an arena with a slight floor, just as hard tennis courts are today (usually 1-50 fall), however to ensure maximum performance of sports and race courses, the convention has changed to totally flat.
The reason the surface behaves inconsistently is due to gravity. If you imagine the arena has a “draining board”, there will be more water within the surface at the bottom (low end) of the school. As the surface at the top of the school is dryer, it is more likely to be disturbed, and suffer from wind erosion. Also, if you always groom the school equally, (as recommended), the dryer surface is more likely to be carried down the school, – therefore causing the membrane to become exposed. Therefore, if your school has a fall you need to check the compacted depth of your surface – frequently, ie monthly. If you take a screw driver, and tape 5”, the surface should have a uniform depth AND compaction where ever you test the surface depth, including the outside track. If the surface is migrating down the school, you can either move the excess material from the deep end and replace at the thin end, – however you will need to level and compact the surface. Or you can have the surface professionally “re-laid and levelled”, which requires a tracked excavator, bo-mag roller and a surface groomer, eg An arena master. A 40m x 20m school will take at least a day to relay and a 60m x 20m usually 2 full days.
Sufficient drains need to be stalled, (with a fall) to take away the surplus water (see below for more details). Straight drain runs are easier/cheaper to install, as there are less connections, however herring bone drains can be installed if preferred.
Example of planning application
Application Reference: xxxx
Web Search Reference: xxxx
Description eg ERECTION OF NEW INDOOR EQUESTRIAN CENTRE, INSTALLATION OF TWO LPG TANKS, EXPANSION OF EXISTING OUTDOOR ARENA AND ASSOCIATED EXTERNAL WORKS AT xxxx College
Planning permission is sought to erect an indoor arena and expand the existing
outdoor arena. The proposals include the installation of two 1 tonne LPG tanks.
The proposals measure: Indoor Arena: 60 m by 40m and has an eaves height of 2.9m and an overall height of 3.7m, it is located to the rear of the existing classrooms on an area of car parking.
Outdoor Arena: The existing facility is to be expanded to 60 m by 40m.
LPG Tanks: These are stored in an area which measures 5m by 5m and is located to the east of the proposed indoor arena.
Permission was previously granted for a similar development under application ERE/0603/0004. Under this permission the existing outdoor arena was constructed and all conditions were discharged. (Note: The planners may request that trees are planted to obscure the construction, that traditional hedges are planted (typically holly, hawthorn and hornbeam, or other conditions. If these were not completed to the satisfaction of the planning inspector, you are unlikely to obtain further consent). Accordingly the development already approved could be completed under the existing planning permission.
The college have confirmed that the use is soley for Derby College students. (Use of the arena for hire and reward is less likely to be approved, if the council has concerns regarding traffic safety and access).
Site and Surroundings
XXX College is situated in extensive grounds to the north west of xxx, xx.
The site is outside any settlement, and is within the Green Belt. (If the area already has a number of outdoor arenas, it may help, as a president has been set. Especially if they are visable from your property. However you are less likely to get permission that extends the area of a “settlement” ie on the edge of a village, or in greenbelt, however it may be worth highlighting the welfare needs of your horses, ie exercise in winter, therefore less need to hack on the roads etc….
Whilst in theory, a private individual can make their own application, if the application is likely to raise objections then instructing a planning consultant to undertake the application on your behalf has a significantly higher success rate. Ideally the planning consultant will be known to the local planning department, and will therefore know their prefences, ie, light coloured surface, dressage board rather than post and rail, etc..)
The college site includes two farms, one of which, xxx Farm, is the application site and some private housing to the north-east borders the site.
Xxxx Farm is located to the north east of the main campus. It provides for
agricultural teaching including animal husbandry and houses the college’s equine
facility. Vehicular access is obtained via a separate entrance off Mansfield Road
although pedestrian and tractor access is available via a track from the main
campus to the west.
Relevant Site History
Xxxx – Erection of equestrian centre, comprising of internal and external arenas, stables, parking and spectator area – Approved –(date)
Xxxxx – Erection of one new agricultural building, one replacement agricultural building and refurbishment of existing agricultural building for use for
Xxx College – Approved – (date)
Policy Context (details of these can be found at http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/planningsystem/planningpolicy/planningpolicyframework/
Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 1: Creating Sustainable Communities
Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts (PPG2)
Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7) : Sustainable Development in Rural Areas
Planning Policy Statement 9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation (PPS9)
Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) 8 –
Policy 1: Regional Core Objectives
Policy 2: Promoting Better Design
Policy 29 – Protecting and Enhancing the Region’s Biodiversity
Three Cities SRS Policy 2: Sub-regional priorities for Green Belt Review
Xxx Saved Polices July 2008:-
Policy LP1 – Sustainable Development
Policy GB1 – Green Belt
Policy EV16 – Landscape Character
Erewash Borough Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) 2005: Design
Erewash Borough Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) 2005: Biodiversity
Ward Members – No representations received at the time of writing;
Parish Council – No objections to the principle however we do have concerns
about the level of usage and whether the existing access is suitable for potentially
over 500 spectators;
Environmental Health – No objections subject to conditions.
A site notice was displayed and a press notice advertising the proposals as major
development was placed in the local paper however no representations have
Assessment (To properly prepare the assessment, especially if there are difficulties, ie green belt, we would suggest engaging the assistance of a planning consultant, especially if the application was initially refused. Also, in our experience, planning problems are usually significantly reduced if the landowner personally visits all the adjacent properties, and fully discloses the intention to develop the site, and what it will/will not be used for.)
The main issues for consideration in the determination of this application are
considered to be:
• the impact of the proposals on the Green Belt,
• whether the design of the proposals is appropriate in this location and
• whether the proposals will result in any detriment to highway safety.
The site is used as part of xxx College as a teaching facility for its land based
courses. The college provides a valuable facility which has an enabling role in
allowing the rural economy to flourish as supported by PPS7.
In considering the proposals, PPG2 – Green Belts, Annex C specifically refers to
educational institutions which are located in the Green Belt and indicates that
where these proposals relate to infilling, which is defined as ‘the filling in of small
gaps between built development,’ proposals should comply with the requirements
of paragraphs C3 (infilling) and C4 (redevelopment). These broadly state that the
proposals should have no greater impact on the Green Belt and should not lead
to a major increase in the developed portion of the site. Where the definition of
educational institutions exceeds the definition of infilling PPG2 states that new
buildings, unless for one of the special purposes identified in PPG2, constitute
inappropriate development for which there is a general presumption against
unless very special circumstances can be shown which outweigh the harm to the
Green Belt. In this case the indoor arena would constitute inappropriate
development in the Green Belt.
The applicant has referred to the following very special circumstances in support
of their application:
• The need for the college to expand as part of the property strategy;
• The lack of suitable alternative facilities in the area;
• The appropriateness of the activities proposed in terms of agriculture and
• Equestrian uses are regarded generally as being appropriate in principle in
rural areas including the Green Belt;
• The proposed arena and the car parking area are situated adjacent to the
main group of existing buildings and reflect the character of the surrounding
buildings, the provision of the additional facilities will have little impact on the
openness of the Green Belt;
• The proposal is located at a reasonable distance from the residential areas
and will have minimal impact on them;
• The small increase in footprint over a previously approved building will have a
minimal impact on the openness of the area and some temporary classrooms
will be removed as part of the proposals once the second phase is completed;
• The external arena will be used less and therefore there will be less potential
for light pollution, as the indoor arena will provide a sheltered facility for the
In response to these matters it is considered that the lack of other suitable
premises in the area and the need for the college to expand can be considered to
be very special circumstances and can be weighed against the potential harm to
the Green Belt as a result of the inappropriate development. Whilst the other
items the college refer to as very special circumstances are considerations it is
not considered that they constitute very special circumstances in relation to
Green Belt policy.
Planning permission exists for a substantial building (ERE/0603/0004) which
could still be implemented. It is important therefore to consider the differences
between the extant permission and the revised proposals.
Whilst the proposed building and outdoor riding area could be considered as
ancillary to the educational use of the college, the facilities are required to ensure
the further educational needs of adults within Erewash and the region can be
met. This is considered to be of primary importance in the consideration of this
application. The economic benefits to be gained by the provision of exemplary
further education facilities have the potential to provide on-going benefits for
future generations. Consequently the need for the college to expand and the lack
of other suitable facilities constitute very special circumstances. Whilst
acknowledging these benefits, they need to be balanced against the need to
protect the character of the Green Belt and in particular, its openness from harm.
The proposals are of a similar character to the existing agricultural buildings on
the site and the proposed indoor arena has the outward appearance of a large
modern agricultural building. The grouping of the buildings also helps reduce their
impact. On balance, whilst the proposals represent a fairly significant increase in
the size of the indoor arena (40% larger in volume than the previously approved
scheme) its impact on the Green Belt as a result of its siting and design is not
considered to be so significant as to warrant the refusal of the application. The
need to accommodate the equestrian teaching facilities to comply with the
requirements set by the British Horse Society and the very special circumstances
adduced by the applicant are considered to outweigh the limited harm to the
Green Belt as a result of the increased size. Accordingly it is considered that the
principle of the development is acceptable in terms of Green Belt policy.
As considered above the design of the proposed buildings is considered to be
appropriate within the context of the site and appropriate in terms of their scale,
mass and size. The proposed building is agricultural in character which is in
keeping with the character of the existing buildings and the site. The proposed
areas of hard standing and car parking have been kept to a minimum and are a
usual characteristic of agricultural type development. It is therefore considered
that the design of the proposals are suitable in this location and would not cause
any significant harm to the visual amenity of the area.
On the basis of the approval of the previous application xCC Highways Authority
have not raised any objections to the proposals subject to conditions. Following
consultation the Parish Council had concerns about potential commercial use at
the site and whether the existing access was adequate. The applicant’s agent
(xx) confirmed by e-mail dated 23 June 20011, that the proposal would
be for 100% curriculum use with no commercial element. Accordingly the
Highways initial consultation response remains and the proposal is considered to
be acceptable in highway terms.
For the reasons given above it is considered that on balance the proposals are
acceptable in planning terms. Any harm to the Green Belt is limited as a result of
the limited increase in size of the current proposal over and above that of the
extant planning permission, and its design and siting. The element of
inappropriate development is outweighed by the very special circumstances
which have been put forward.
As the proposal, is for inappropriate development over 1000m2 within the Green
Belt the application will need to be referred to the Secretary of State for
consideration if the committee is minded to approve the application.
TO ADVISE THE SECRETARY OF STATE THAT THE COUNCIL IS MINDED
TO APPROVE THE APPLICATION SUBJECT TO CONDITIONS AND
PROVIDED THE SECRETARY OF STATE DOES NOT CALL IN THE
APPLICATION FOR DETERMINATION, TO GRANT THAT CONDITONAL
Conditions & Reasons
1. The development shall be begun before the expiration of three years from the
date of this permission.
To comply with the requirements of Section 91 of the Town and Country Planning
2. This approval relates to the plans received by the Local Planning Authority on
the 7 April 2011 – drawing numbers 100808/002B, 100808/004C, 100808/005C
and 100808/006C and the plans received on the 14 April 2011 – drawing numbers
100808/001B, 100808/003E and 100808/010D any revision to these plans may
be subject to further consent.
Reason: For the avoidance of doubt and to satisfy the Town and Country
Planning Act 1990 as amended.
3. The proposal the subject of the application shall not be taken into use until
space has been provided within the application site in accordance with the
application drawings for the parking and manoeuvring of vehicles, and laid out,
surfaced and maintained in perpetuity free from any impediment to its designated
Reason: In the interests of highway safety.
4. Within 28 days of the new classrooms being taken into use the existing
temporary classrooms shall be removed.
Reason: In the interests of highway safety and Green Belt policy.
5. Notwithstanding the submitted details, details of any revisions to the existing
floodlighting shall be submitted to the Local Planning Authority in writing prior to
any development being brought into use and shall include details of size, level of
luminance, glare, light spread, shielding and hours of operation. Once approved
the floodlighting shall be installed and operated in accordance with the approved
details in perpetuity.
Reason: In the interests of the amenity of the nearest residents and to ensure
that light pollution is kept to a minimum.
6. Notwithstanding the Design and Access Statement the development hereby
approved shall be used only in connection with the neighbouring college
educational facility and shall not be operated as a separate, commercial and
Reason: In order to remain in accordance with planning policy and to ensure
continued control over access arrangements.
7. No development approved by this permission shall be commenced until a
scheme for the provision of foul drainage works has been approved by the Local
Planning Authority. The scheme shall be implemented in accordance with the
approved details prior to the development being brought into use.
Reason: To prevent pollution of the water environment.
8. Prior to the commencement of the development a scheme for the storage of
manure shall be submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority in
writing. The scheme to be approved shall be implemented to the satisfaction of
the Local Planning Authority prior to the development commencing and retained
Reason: To prevent pollution of the surface water system.
9. Before construction commences on the building, details of the colour of all
external cladding material and any painted areas shall be submitted to, and
approved in writing by, the Local Planning Authority.
To ensure a satisfactory standard of external appearance.
Summary of Policies and Reason for Decision
The proposal is considered to be of a suitable design that would not impact on
the amenity of neighbours to a significant degree or cause harm to highways
safety. Furthermore whilst the proposal would constitute inappropriate
development in the designated Green Belt the applicant has adduced very
special circumstances which outweigh the potential harm. The proposal generally
accords with the objectives of Policies 1, 2, 5 and 29 of the xxx
Regional Plan (2009) and Saved Policies LP1, GB1, EV16, and DC10 of the
Xx Local Plan (2005), and in the opinion of the Local Planning Authority
there are no other material considerations that indicate the decision should be
taken at variance to these policies.
This article was written by Gill Davies of Martin Collins Arenas