Indoor riding arena rejected in green belt

Concerns over a reduction in green belt openness have led an inspector to refuse plans for an indoor riding arena at a site in Surrey.

The appeal site comprised a private equestrian yard. The new arena was intended to replace a pole barn and part of an L-shaped stable building. It would be 40 metres long, 20 metres wide and have a ridge height of 7.2 metres. The appellant cited paragraph 145 of the NPPF, which supports appropriate facilities for outdoor sport and recreation, limited infilling and partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land as exceptions to green belt restraint policies.

As the arena would provide indoor riding facilities, the inspector found that it would not comply with the first exception. He agreed that the site was previously developed, so the proposal could be acceptable in principle provided it had no greater impact on openness. However, he noted that its floorspace would be approximately double the 400 square metre footprint of the buildings proposed for removal. While it would be partially screened by a large barn, he judged that its overall bulk would have a much greater impact on openness and would not constitute limited infilling.

The inspector recognised that development of the appellant’s career as an international show-jumper, requiring all-year-round use of training facilities, was a material consideration, as was the opportunity to train horses. However, in refusing permission, he remarked that personal circumstances rarely outweigh the need to prevent urban sprawl and protect the permanently open nature of green belts.

Inspector: David Murray; Written representations

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