When it comes to horses the question of whether planning consent is required or not can become confusing. Most people are unsure what their permitted development rights are and what they may or may not need planning for.

Change of use

Horses can be grazed on agricultural land as long as they are not being supplementary fed. If they are being supplementary fed, ridden or lunged on agricultural land then a change of use application is required, unless the use is for 28 days or less per year. Also, if horses are being kept as part of a business, such as a riding school or livery it is likely a change of use will be required on the land and any buildings or stables used, even if they have been used for personal equestrian use in the past.  A change of use application will allow horses to be grazed, fed and ridden on the field. Without consent for a change of use horse or livery owners are open to enforcement action from the local council.

rates on stables

Where planning may not be required

Unlike farms, equine facilities do not have any agricultural permitted development rights, meaning that most development requires planning consent.  This is because horses kept for recreation, sport and business are not classed as an agricultural activity. The only horses classified as agricultural are horses used as part of a farming business to, for example pull a plough.

If you wish to put up stables, for “personal enjoyment” adjacent to your home you may have permitted development rights. However, this depends on the distance from your home, the size and number of the stables and your location in the country. If your property is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty such as the Malvern Hills, Cotswolds or Forest of Dean as different planning requirements can apply.

Planning policy in general supports recreation in the countryside but each site will have its own challenges, for example access and landscape. We have had success over the past year gaining consent for new gallops, stables, arenas and solving access issues.

Business Rates

The development of new buildings may also generate business rate liability depending on the size. For more information please see our blogs, Why am I paying Business Rates on my stables and Business Rates – are you paying too much?”.

Temporary stables

It is possible to erect field shelters without planning consent, as long as they qualify as temporary structures and the land is classified to allow equine use. In order to qualify as a temporary structure the building must:

  • Be standing in the location for less than 28 days
  • Be less than 100m2
  • Not exceed 25% of the land on your site
  • Not be located within 5m of your boundary

This means that any field shelter must be moveable and must be moved every 28 days in order to be exempt from planning consent.  It should be noted that field shelters for horses should not be situated on agricultural land without first seeking a change of use to have an equine use on the land.

Where full planning consent is required

Full planning consent will be required for any new permanent equine development including:

  • horse walkers
  • stables
  • arenas
  • solarium
  • new or widening an access onto the highway
  • concrete yards
  • gallops

Carver Knowles has experience with all manner of equine planning across Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. If you are unsure whether you need planning consent then please call us on 01684 853400 or email Aislyn or Ellen at aislynfirth@carverknowles.co.u or  ellencottrell@fts.carverknowles.co.uk