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Do I need Planning Permission to Build Private Stables and an Outdoor Arena?

As you may or may not know Equine Planning Solutions provide free no obligation planning advice for equestrian projects, so we get a lot of people contacting us with their planning enquiries. One of the most common scenarios we come across is this.

‘ Some land has come up for sale near me and I’m thinking about bidding for it at auction, I am looking to build stables and maybe an outdoor arena, do I need planning permission and if so what are my chances of the planning application being approved?’

This type of enquiry is why we offer free planning advice because in some cases, not all but some, the land in question may not be suitable. Rather than leave people to make an expensive mistake we would much rather provide the planning advice they need.

In order to ascertain whether or not the land in question is suitable we need to know exactly what the client is looking to build, how the proposed equestrian facilities will be used i.e. are they looking to build something for their own horses or will it involve livery or some other commercial use, we also need to know where the site is located and the extent of the land to be purchased. The latter is usually included on the auctioneers or commercial agent’s sales particulars.  

We always undertake planning assessments before we provide potential clients with a fee quote. The planning assessment highlights planning hurdles, any specialist consultant works that may be needed to validate the planning application as well as the type and number of drawings/reports needed by the local authority.

Our planning assessments look at things like.

o   The planning history of the land

o   Any planning applications close to the site that may have a bearing on what the client would like to build

o   Whether there is anything of historic/archaeological interest close to the land

o   The possibility of protected species living on or close to the site

o   Whether the site has flooded in the past

o   The position of public footpaths or rights of way

o   Access and egress onto the public highway

o   Whether the site is within an area where planning policy restricts development

o   We also check to see whether anything built on site has planning permission amongst other things.

In most cases the commercial agent or auctioneer selling the land will not highlight any potential planning hurdles, most will simply state ‘the land may be of interest to equestrian lifestyle purchasers subject to consents’ which puts the onus on the land buyer to do the detective work before they hand over their hard-earned money.

We probably undertake around a dozen free planning assessments every week, we cover England, Wales and Scotland so we have quite a large catchment area and there are plenty of equestrian people out there looking to build their dream stable yard. The land purchase will be the first step towards owning a stable yard for many people, it is also a very expensive step so its important people make an informed decision before committing to any purchase.

In truth most equestrian developments no matter how small will need planning approval, that includes building stables on skids or even field shelters. Widening an existing field gate access or stoning up a track/parking area for your horsebox will usually require planning approval. The land you are looking to purchase may be agricultural land so you may also need planning approval for change of use before you can install paddock fencing and keep your horses on the land. Just because something needs planning approval does not mean to say it wont be approved but in some cases your chances of obtaining planning approval may be slim or the application process may be complex due to the sites location. We can tell you what your chances of a successful planning application are and how much the planning application is likely to cost, all of these things should be factored in before you decide to make an offer on the land in question.

The planning system can be a minefield and even applications for private scale stable yards can be challenging. Equine Planning Solutions have been undertaking free planning assessments for over 10 years, we understand our client’s needs and we understand how best to present equestrian planning applications to the local authority.

If you would like the benefit of our experience before you purchase land for equestrian use then please get in touch, we are here to support the equine community and make our clients dream stable yard a reality.

For free no obligation planning support regardless of where your site is located call our office on 01772 369090 or email our staff on


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Call:  0845 5442005

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