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Six types of horse – Planning in all its glory

PUBLISHED: 12:55 05 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:25 05 April 2013

Six types of horse – Planning in all its glory

Six types of horse – Planning in all its glory

Most of us will come into contact with the planning system at some point in our lives. Love it or loathe it, depending on the outcome you have experienced, most people would agree that it can be a maze for the average person to navigate.

Six types of horse Planning in all its glory


Most of us will come into contact with the planning system at some point in our lives. Love it or loathe it, depending on the outcome you have experienced, most people would agree that it can be a maze for the average person to navigate.

So when the Government declared that they were condensing over 1,000 pages of planning documentation into just 52, with their new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), launched on 27 March 2012, you could be led to believe that things got simpler and hopefully clearer.

In some senses its fair to say that it has by reducing much of the complex policy guidance that once existed. However as much of the legislation the planning system is based on remains the same, it could also be argued that many of the idiosyncrasies of the past system remain.

As a member of Bruton Knowles specialist equestrian property team, Im drawn to the example of how horses are viewed by the planning system. You might be fooled into thinking that the keeping of horses would fall into one type of activity under the planning system, but you would be wrong. There are actually six types of horse in planning.

These range from the commercial end of the spectrum with the working horse, the racehorse the grazing horse and the recently topical horsemeat through to the recreational horse and the residentially incidental horse at the private ownership end of the spectrum.

In recent years, weve seen an increase in the number of equestrian businesses and recreational owners, meaning more land being bought and sold to support these activities. However when it comes to knowing what land use they have or need, many people fall at the first hurdle, because of the idiosyncrasies of planning law.

If you keep a horse at your home the residentially incidental horse (incidental to the enjoyment of a dwelling house) doesnt need planning permission. But this definition is affected by how large the curtilage to the dwelling is.

With the recreational horse owners often believe that they can keep their horse on the farm land they have acquired, as keeping horses is viewed as an agricultural activity. However this isnt necessarily true. Only the working horse (defined by those animals kept and bred for agricultural use), the meat horse and the grazing horse (which occupies the land for no specific purpose other than grazing) are viewed as agricultural activity.

Equally if you decide to erect a cross country course, you are immediately changing the use of the land from agricultural to either a leisure or commercial equestrian use. This then requires permission.

Other structures such as external lighting columns, manges and permanent jumps all need planning consent. These structures tie in with commercial and some recreational equine activities. However a portable field shelter, which can be moved around the field, may not require consent, but there are a number of points to be aware of relating to these.

As racehorses cannot be described as livestock for keeping or breeding, in the eyes of the law, this type of equestrian use also requires permission.

On one hand we could argue that our planning system is still as complex as ever. But having worked with the system for many years its also possible to see how this complexity is designed to try to accommodate the diversity of our land and our lives.

Some activities are more visually or practically intrusive than others and land use protection is again to ensure we retain our diversity. It may keep professional advisers busy, but it also aims to protect our very unique and valuable landscape heritage.

Alister King-Smith, rural planning surveyor, Bruton Knowles equestrian property team, can be contacted on 01452 880008 or via email at alister.king-smith@brutonknowles.co.uk


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