Planning officers were accused of offering “seriously flawed” guidance to councillors in recommending approval for new buildings to accommodate horses in a field alongside housing on a green belt site in a Rotherham village.
The field in Aughton has been used to accommodate horses since the 1980s and since then some buildings have been added, but the council faced objections from residents living alongside the field, which is accessed from Ulley Lane, with residents adjoining the site stating they had problems with increased smell, dust and flies since numbers of horses accommodated there was increased from two to six earlier this year.
Planning constraints on the site are complex, because permission for grazing horses there was granted in 1982 although permission to graze horses is not technically required.
Rotherham Council’s planning officers believe it has been established that keeping horses on the site is lawful and that green belt guidance on building new structures provides exceptions which allow for the construction of a new shelter, to improve the welfare of the horses accommodated there.
But neighbour Derek Pyecroft said horses had previously only been grazed, rather than fed at the site and told councillors: “Feeding of horses instead of grazing is a change of use, as stated in green belt documents.
“Supplementary feed has only been brought into the field since the tenants took over. This requires planning approval. Grazing is what has been applied for, omitting that feeding of horses is taking place.
“The planning officers’ report in my opinion is seriously flawed.”
He also raised concerns that under DEFRA guidelines, there should be half an hectare of land per horse available, with the site covering less than one full hectare, meaning its dimensions were enough for no more than two horses.
Neighbour John Dunning added that they were “often unable to open our doors and windows” because of large flies. “The officers’ report has to be contested”, he said.
Two councillors said they had experience of similar situations and acknowledged that such arrangements generated flies and an odour, with Coun Robert Taylor telling the meeting that he recognised the problems faced by the Pyecrofts and said: “I believe that in order to do the right thing by the horses, their concerns will be dismissed as ‘nimbyism’.”
Councillors approved the application, meaning the new shelter can be built after hearing that planning officers had worked with the applicant on a design which would place the new shelter as far away from existing houses as possible.