Shropshire Star

Planning inspector allows outbuilding used to care for retired trekking horses to remain

A couple who rescued retiring trekking horses have won their battle against the borough council for the right to keep storing equipment in an outbuilding.


In 2019 Richard and Elizabeth Wardle bought a family home in Sutton Bank, Coalport, with 4.33 acres of land.

They said that the land allowed them to ‘fulfil their lifelong dream’ of owning and caring for horses.

“At the time of purchase we imagined this would be as part of our retirement, however a new life perspective over the pandemic,” said the couple in a planning appeal statement.

“We took on an opportunity to rehome retiring trekking centre horses who were struggling with deteriorating condition due to the business being closed and food being scarce.

“They had lost considerable weight. Brodie (28) and Summer (29), horses we had ridden and loved for many years previously, joined us for rehabilitation and retirement shortly joined by Drifter (16), a Blue Cross rescue pony.

“Our herd are very well cared for, we are known to be a five-star home with excellent professional support from local vets, farriers and expert coaches and other equestrian professionals.”

The couple state that the property’s cart shed was a key factor in their decision to buy their home and they added wooden doors to increase security to equipment.

However, Telford & Wrekin Council claimed that the owners did not have the required planning permission for the unauthorised building of the outbuilding and fencing.

“The council considers that the outbuilding which has been constructed causes harm to the special character and appearance of the Severn Gorge Conservation Area (SGCA) and the Outstanding Universal Value of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site (IGWHS) due to its scale, design, materials and appearance and location in relation to former agricultural buildings and farmhouse,” argued the council.

“The council considers that the outbuilding is a prominent addition to the site and detracts from the amenity of the rural area. It is considered that the outbuilding does not respect the character of the area.”

Mr and Mrs Wardle added that if the cart shed was ‘knocked down and materials taken away’ then the care of their horses would end.

“We will not have the storage to house the equipment enabling this care,” the planning appeal added.

“The herd is so old it would also be too stressful for them to be rehomed, they would need to be destroyed.”

The council stated that when planning permission was granted in 2015 for the conversion of redundant farm buildings into four homes a condition removed certain permitted development rights for freestanding building within the curtilage of the dwelling.

The condition also removed rights to the laying of any hard surfacing or the building of any fences, gates and walls.

“The council does not consider that planning permission should be granted, as the imposition of planning conditions would not be able to overcome the harm caused by the unauthorised works,” the council added.

“It appears to the council that the breach of planning control has occurred within the last four years.”

The council launched enforcement action against each of the four properties at The Barns in Sutton Bank.

The enforcement notices included a 1.8-metre high fencing which had been installed to provide private garden space for each property.

“It is thought that the fencing prejudices the arrangement of open areas and the relationship between the former agricultural buildings and farmhouse,” argued the council.

Planning inspector Chris Baxter looked over an appeal for each of the four properties and came back with a split decision.

He said that planning permission should be granted for the outbuildings and concluded that they preserve the character and appearance of the SGCA and IGWHS.

“The fencing, however, does not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the SGCA and IGWHS,” Mr Baxter concluded.

“It does not accord with the development plan as a whole and there are no other considerations.

“I see no reason why the necessary works required to remove the fencing within six months, could not be achieved. There is no compelling evidence before me to indicate otherwise.”