Agenda item

Brettenham: Home Farm, Shadwell: Change of Use from agriculture fields to equine use incorporating an all weather gallop and two stables consisting of six boxes each for Mr Philip Hodson: Reference: 3PL/2008/1419/F

Report of the Development Services Manager.


Councillor Bowes declared a personal interest in this item.


This proposal had been fully discussed at previous meetings of the Committee and had come back for further consideration.


Members were given an overview of the proposal, the consultations and the issues raised. 


The proposal was unchanged, but the description had been amended to reflect the joint use of the land for mixed equine and agricultural use.


Addressing the issue of impact on the countryside, the Officer explained that there would be limited hardstanding associated with the small stable blocks; the need for which was accepted on isolation requirement grounds.


The three metre wide gallops would also have limited impact being constructed of sand with post and rail inner fencing to the central grazing land and post and wire outer fencing surrounded by a wildlife buffer.  There would be no jumps or floodlighting.


Mr Poulter, representing the Parish Council, spoke strongly in support of retaining the agricultural land which he said was of good quality and had an installed irrigation system.  He quoted National policies and others contained within the emerging LDF Core Strategy document which aimed to protect agricultural land.  He also felt that any additional employment would be for a short term each year only.


Mr Wright, objector, had been a tenant of the land in partnership with his brother and sister for many years.  He said the proposed agricultural use would not be by them.  The proposal would have a huge impact on the landscape and on bio-diversity.  It would cause the loss of 50 acres of good land and would not create jobs.


Mr Warth, Agent, said that equine use would provide many more direct and indirect employment opportunities than agriculture.  He reiterated that Stone Curlews did not like arable land or open countryside and said that more areas of land would be set aside for bio-diversity under this proposal.  Finally he mentioned that the tenant farmer had been offered compensation above the national requirement.


Lady Fisher, Ward Representative, was surprised that there had not been an Environmental Impact Statement provided.  She said this was a big equine village on the grand scale which would impact on the countryside and lead to loss of bio-diversity, contrary to policies.


The Solicitor pointed out to Members that it was up to the Committee to approve or refuse the application, but that adequate and sustainable reasons had to be given.


A Member asked about pre-determination, as the Committee had already considered this application.  The Solicitor advised that as long as Members had an open mind they could participate.


A discussion then followed concerning the amount of agricultural land which had already been lost to equine use.  Figures had been provided, for this holding only, by the tenant farmer, which indicated that almost 47 hectares of land had been lost since January 2002.  It was pointed out that there was still over 1300 hectares farmed by the tenant.


The need for planning permission for the change of use of the land in the centre of the gallops was queried, as it was still to be used for grazing.  The Agent explained that the grazing of cattle and sheep was regarded as an agricultural use, but the use for horses was not (unless they were working horses).


Another Member could not understand how horses and gallops could be considered to have a negative impact on the countryside.  She confirmed that the applicant employed many local people and was actively supporting bio-diversity and already looked after Stone Curlew habitat.  She felt the application would enhance the landscape.


RESOLVED to approve the application as recommended, subject to an additional condition preventing construction work during the nesting season.


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