Policy RUR 7: Equestrian development outside of settlement boundaries

  1. In the open countryside, proposals for equestrian development related to grazing and equestrian enterprises (including stables, training areas, riding centres and studs) will be supported where they accord with other policies in the development plan and:
    1. make the best use of existing infrastructure such as existing buildings, utilities, bridleways, tracks, parking and vehicular access;
    2. ancillary development (including hardstanding, parking and manure storage sites) is restricted to the minimum level reasonably required for the operation of the facility; is well-related to any existing buildings; and does not form isolated or scattered development;
    3. do not unacceptably affect the amenity and character of the surrounding area or landscape (including visual impacts, noise, odour, design and appearance), either on its own or cumulatively with other developments;
    4. provide sufficient land for supplementary grazing and exercise footnote 15); and
    5. provide appropriate landscaping and screening.
  2. Additional new buildings and structures may be permitted for proposals to facilitate the sustainable growth and expansion of existing businesses, or for new small scale equestrian businesses and non-commercial proposals, provided there are no existing buildings or structures that could be converted or replaced and where they are restricted to the minimum level reasonably required for the operation of the facility; are well-related to each other and existing buildings; and do not form isolated or scattered development. New larger equestrian businesses and non-commercial proposals seeking a location in the countryside should utilise existing buildings and structures (or replacements for existing buildings and structures); and new additional buildings and structures will not usually be permitted for this scale of new equestrian enterprise.
  3. Any new building or structure must be constructed of materials appropriate for its intended use; its design must be appropriate to its intended equestrian use; and must not be designed to be easily converted to any non-equestrian use in the future.
  4. Artificial lighting will be permitted in line with Policy ENV 14 'Light pollution' only where it is visually acceptable and strictly necessary. Its design and operation may be limited by condition in order to minimise light pollution in the open countryside.
  5. Proposals should be accompanied by a waste management scheme, including horse manure and other waste.
  6. In the Green Belt, LPS Policy PG 3 ‘Green Belt’ will also apply and the relevant paragraphs of the NPPF will be a material consideration.

Supporting information

6.26 The open countryside is the area outside of any settlement with a defined settlement boundary. Equestrian facilities usually need to be located outside of settlements and their operation contributes to the rural economy with tourism and leisure benefits.

6.27 Under LPS Policy PG 6 'Open countryside', development that is essential for uses appropriate to a rural area will be permitted in the open countryside. Equestrian development related to grazing and equestrian enterprises (including stables, training areas, riding centres and studs) is considered to be a use appropriate to a rural area provided it is small in scale and it can be demonstrated that a countryside location is necessary for the proposal. New larger or commercial proposals may also be appropriate to a rural area where they re-use or replace existing buildings and do not involve the construction of additional new buildings. Any replacement building should be in accordance with the relevant provisions in Policy RUR 13 'Replacement buildings outside of settlement boundaries' as well as LPS Policy PG 3 ‘Green Belt’ and/or LPS Policy PG 6 ‘Open countryside’ (as appropriate).

6.28 By their nature, facilities such as stables, paddocks, training areas and associated facilities such as parking may often have impacts on the rural environment, landscape and local amenity.

6.29 Under UK legislation, a horse is an agricultural animal if it is used directly for farming purposes. The term ‘agricultural use’ includes the breeding and keeping of livestock and the use of land for grazing. If horses are kept on the land for the primary purpose of grazing and/or are kept for the sole purpose of breeding, this will generally fall under the definition of ‘agricultural use’. However, if horses are kept in a field for recreational use, this constitutes a material change in the use of the land, which requires planning permission.

6.30 LPS Policy PG 6 ‘Open countryside’ allows for development that is essential for uses appropriate to a rural area, but the impacts on the open countryside should be minimised. LPS Policy EG 2 (‘Rural economy’) supports developments that create or extend rural-based tourist attractions, visitor facilities and recreational uses. In the Green Belt, additional restrictions to development will apply under LPS Policy PG 3 'Green Belt'.

6.31 Other policies in the development plan may also have particular relevance to equestrian development in the open countryside; particularly those related to access, car parking, design, landscape, nature conservation, heritage, and best and most versatile agricultural land.

Related documents

(Footnote 15) As set out in the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids (2017) or any updated guidance.

Policy information


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