Riding Arenas


Riding arenas – indoor and outdoor

In Britain equestrianism has always been a popular pastime in rural areas and some have taken this passion for horses to form great yards and businesses and, although setting up the desired facilities can seem daunting and costly, we generally see Councils being supportive of robust planning proposals which are well designed and encourage employment or generate income to the local area and with some careful consideration many obstacles can be overcome to achieve a successful planning application.

There are many opportunities for developing that prefect free draining training surface, lunge pen, canter track or gallop and, whether you are buying a property and building an equestrian property from scratch or utilising existing buildings or land, its essential to plan and consider your requirements, what you have got to work with and consider design and planning.

There are a few what we call ‘dealbreakers’; things which can unfortunately mean planning is unachievable. As well as the dealbreakers, there are several other factors which have to be carefully considered and explained to the Council to make sure it complies, and permission can be secured. The devil is in the detail and very dependent on site. Our favourite phrase is ‘get your ducks in a row’, with preparation being key to a successful application.

Is planning permission required?

If you intend to build a manege, for example, dig out the ground, put in drainage and then resurface, this is operational development and also requires planning for the installation. An outdoor, low key manege is normally acceptable to most Councils. If you are likely to have a high level of usage or require flood lighting then you may have to provide additional justification and evidence that the development won’t adversely affect the area or neighbouring residents. Indoor arena or facilities will require justification for the scale of the structure and use of it via a full planning application. If it’s just using an existing field for exercise or cross country, for instance, with or without a fence boundary then it’s a planning application for a change of use.

Our advice would always be to assume that you do need permission and check in advance of doing any works, rather than steaming ahead and then finding out that there’s a problem further down the line.

View further information resources here

What is the process for this type of application?

Read about the planning process here

What are the main issues that need to be overcome?

Principle of the proposal – equestrian development

We have to firstly make sure the Local Planning Authority are happy with the proposal in principle, asking the question - does the development meet local and national planning policy? As well as the principle, there are lots of other factors that come into planning for arenas and other surfaces:

  • Likelihood of flooding
  • Highways safety and impact
  • Landscape and visual impact
  • Impact on public rights of way
  • Impact on designations such as Green Belt or AONBs
  • Noise
  • Neighbour amenity
  • Ecology

Other factors have to be thought very carefully about:

  • Design
  • Materials
  • Scale
  • Use
  • Siting
  • Drainage

If you can overcome and clearly show how your application deals with or meets all of the above, and any local criteria, then as a general rule of thumb, local authorities are supportive of planning applications that support rural businesses, create jobs, support farm incomes etc.

It’s recommended that you include a planning statement giving information about your proposed business, how it’s going to run, how it meets planning policy, and provide additional detail on each of the above planning matters.

How The Rural Planning Co can help

We LOVE getting involved with exciting new equestrian projects like this, and helping you along the journey to bringing your personal aspirations or business plans and dreams to fruition. With many years specialising in this sector, we believe that engaging an experienced and proactive consultant can reduce the stress, time and cost of the process and above all gives you the best chance of success.

Read our pricing here

Read about the planning process here

Read ‘how we work’ here

Read about us here

Find case studies here

Here are some links to more business help on The Business Barn website. Our other business Moule & Co specialises in rural professional consultancy and can help with grants and business plans.