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News & Insight

Agriculture to Equestrian Use

7th April 2021
If you are using your agricultural land for equestrian purposes, your Local Authority could take enforcement action against you.

Therefore it is important you know the difference and the limitations of use on your land. If you rent land you can become liable for the breach depending on the agreement in place.

Therefore, to keep horses on agricultural land, you must manage the horses correctly. Examples of agricultural use are native ponies kept out unrugged all year round, fed hay grown on the holding, horses kept to work the land, or in woodland.

If the land is used for the grazing of horses or ponies, then this will fall within the legal definition of “agriculture” and there is no need to obtain planning permission for this use. However, if you keep your horses for other purposes, such as leisure riding or teaching, you may require planning permission.

Other reasons of what is not considered agricultural use of the land:

  • If the horses are having supplementary hard feed from a bucket and any grazing is secondary.
  • If the horses are being exercised in the field
  • Whether the land is used primarily for horses or whether other animals such as sheep also graze on it.
  • Any structures such as jumps, round pen, arenas, horse walkers that indicate the horses are being kept for leisure.

For agricultural land, the benefits are that agricultural use  of agricultural buildings which generally falls under permitted development rights meaning they can be developed without the need for planning permission.

For mobile field shelters, these are allowed in areas where permitted development rights have not been withdrawn. You need to be aware that the field shelter should be genuinely movable on skids, and ensure that it does not remain in the same location for more than six months at a time.  The shelter ceases to be movable if a permanent floor is constructed.

If the equestrian or mixed use has prevailed for longer than ten years, there may be the opportunity to submit a Certificate of Lawful Use or Development confirming the use has taken place consistently over a ten-year period. These applications are usually supported by statutory declarations from either the occupier, or others who have known or used the land. The onus of proof is on the applicant and the legal test is on the balance of probability. Certificates can be a very useful tool because they secure immunity from enforcement. Planning conditions cannot be imposed on a certificate

If you are unsure as to whether you need planning permission, our experienced team can advise you and make sure you have the appropriate consent and don’t end up facing an enforcement action.

The Rural Planning Practice

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