Just hours after Charlotte Dujardin won a silver medal in dressage at the Olympics to become the country’s most decorated female Olympian, Hambleton Council moved to help Sally Walker, who has competed in the equestrian sport for England, train at her home of two years in Kirkby in Cleveland, near Stokesley.
The authority’s planning committee heard Mrs Walker, who is also a Teesside firefighter, wanted to build a 173sq.m equestrian barn and a standard Olympic-size dressage arena outside her home on a grassed, paddock-like field which planning officers concluded was “not serving any real agricultural purpose”.
A planning officers’ report to the meeting concluded the proposed stables and menage would be visually acceptable as they would be screened by hedges and located to appear as part of the built village.
Despite this, the meeting heard 17 letters of objection had been lodged by villagers over Mrs Walker’s plans and the parish council had also taken exception to the proposals.
A parish council spokesman said the the barn would introduce an unsightly element into the views of the Cleveland Hills as well as being a modern development which would ruin the setting of the village’s conservation area and the ”quiet rural agricultural landscape”.
In one letter of objection a resident said the stables and menage had the “potential to give rise to significant impacts” on numerous villagers due to “external lighting, higher levels of noise and traffic associated with the keeping of animals, more intensive use and impact on the surrounding countryside and the harmful impact of stables and associated jumps, boxes and other equipment on the appearance of the landscape”.
The meeting was told residents had also raised concerns the size of the stables appeared to be “more commercial than private”, and that the equestrian facilities would become a business, leading to traffic issues in the rural area.
Councillors were repeatedly told the suggestions were unfounded and that a condition of the planning consent would be that the equestrian facilities remained for private use.
After hearing the claims Coun Kevin Hardisty said: “I won’t use the word nimbyism. At the end of the day this to me is a satisfactory application and I wish Mrs Walker well and hopefully we may see her competing with Charlotte Dujardin in the future.”
Following the meeting, Mrs Walker said her main ambition had been to stable her horses at her home rather than have to travel to livery yards and that she did not know how long building the facilities would take to complete.
She said: “It will definitely help with the training. It will save me at least an hour a day with the travelling. It will also help with the health of the horses. You can’t really look after them like you’d like to if they are not on site.”