Horseriding centre loses appeal to keep house for workers

A horseriding centre has failed in its bid to keep an on-site house for workers, after its appeal against a council demolition order was rejected.

Little Wenlock Farm Ltd won permission to place an “agri-equestrian centre”, with stables, barns and a riding enclosure on the former Huntington Lane Surface Mine more than two years ago.

Telford and Wrekin Council issued an enforcement notice alleging the wood-framed building, which includes bedrooms and a bathroom along with an office and storeroom, “failed to respect the local vernacular”, with its domestic rather than agricultural appearance. It also pointed out that planning policies forbid isolated single homes in the countryside.

Little Wenlock Farm Ltd director Neil Enefer appealed, but a government-appointed planning inspector has sided with the authority and upheld the notice.

Mr Enefer’s aplication for “an agri-equestian centre to include 20 enclosed stables and ancillary areas, six-bay Dutch barn, manège and car parking” was approved in December 2018. A subsequent application, which added “habitable accommodation” to the description and blueprints, was refused in February last year.

Council Principal Enforcement Officer David Jones then issued an enforcement notice giving a three-month deadline to demolish the building and restore the land it sat on to its former condition.

Siding with the council, the Planning Inspectorate decision notice, issued this week, says the building “is of significant stature with a domesticated form” while standing “in an open and isolated elevated position in the countryside”.

It adds: “This creates a visually prominent building which does not reflect the vernacular of equestrian and farm buildings expected to be found in such a location.”

It rules the building has an “adverse impact on its surroundings” and violates a Local Plan policy that aims to protect the “Wrekin Forest Strategic Landscape”.

Regarding the use of the building, the decision notice says: “There appears to be no disagreement between the parties that the partially-constructed building is designed and intended for use as a dwelling and for use in association with an equestrian and agricultural business.”

The Local Plan only allows rural homes to be built in certain named settlements.

“Exceptions to the policy include proposals that meet an identified essential need for a rural worker to live on-site,” the Planning Inspectorate notice says, adding that temporary accomodation, such as mobile homes and caravans, can be considered for up to three years.

“The appellant’s evidence provides that the development has received a ‘considerable amount of backing and support from potential clients that the whole business strategy has had to be re-visited to allow for the volume of business that is to be expected’ [sic].

“However, there is no business currently operating from the site and in these circumstances ‘the expected increase in business’ is insufficient evidence to justify the need for a dwelling.”

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