Planning Update

For farming and rural businesses, the distinction between agricultural and equestrian uses of land and buildings is often difficult to separate, but this can have implications in planning terms if not managed correctly. Tom Arthey, director at Arthey Associates, explains more.


Diversifying in to equestrian uses is an attractive and relatively cost-effective way to bring in non-farming income streams. The industry has seen huge growth over the last two decades, and is estimated to be worth nearly £6 billion in the UK and Ireland, employing nearly 85,000 either directly or in related industries, and is home to nearly one million horses.

Farms and landowners often have underutilized grassland and buildings well suited to conversion to provide all the needs for a horse and its expectant rider, be it DIY livery, riding school or training establishments.

Whilst you won’t need planning permission to just provide horse grazing (but may need a change of use to horse grazing if no agricultural work takes place), in most instances you will need to apply for planning consent if you are converting or erecting buildings for stabling, exercise arenas or for other training facilities such as event courses.

As part of a planning application, consideration also has to be given to access requirements and traffic movements. An access suitable for occasional agricultural vehicles may not be so appropriate for access by several livery owners visiting two or three times a day. Similarly, it is important to think about how a working farmyard and equestrian use can sit side by side. Large and noisy agricultural machinery, a lively horse, and a novice rider don’t often make easy bedfellows!

Aside from the planning requirements, it is also really important to make sure that Basic Payment Scheme and Countryside Stewardship Scheme requirements are not breached, and that tax implications have been considered, particularly business rates, which are not usually applicable to agricultural property.

Arthey Associates have expertise in equestrian business advisory and planning matters, advising equestrian businesses and private horse owners through the planning process. For more information, or a no-obligation enquiry, please contact us or fill in the following form:

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