Do not break the law with equestrian use on farmland

Grazing sheep with your horses can help you keep the law! Do you know the rules?

Charlotte Boyes, an attorney on Wilkin Chapman’s agriculture team, explains:

“If you wish to use any part of your farmland for equestrian purposes, you should be aware of current planning legislation, in particular the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA), which may affect your property.

“While many may think that horses are included in ‘agriculture’ and therefore do not need planning permission, there are important distinctions to be made based on land use and use of horses If horses are simply grazing on land, they will likely fall under the legal definition of “farming” and you will not need to obtain planning permission for them.

Charlotte Boyes

“However, if you wish to keep your horses for other purposes, such as recreational riding, you may need planning permission. The consequences of a planning violation may include enforcement measures. execution, so it is important to make the distinction.

“There is a fine line between horses that graze the land and those that are kept for other purposes. The courts have considered the issue on different occasions, but there are still no clear rules and each case will be decided on its facts.

What is considered agricultural when it comes to horses?

Some of the factors the local authority may consider in determining whether a breach has occurred include:

When horses are exercised in the fields: the use of the land cannot be considered as agricultural.

If grazing is secondary and horses are fed large amounts of hard feed instead.

If there are structures related to the use of horses, such as a household or jumps, this would likely show that they are kept there for recreation rather than agricultural purposes.

Whether the land is used only for horses or whether other animals, such as sheep, also graze on the land will imply that it is agricultural.

“There are also farm buildings that usually have permitted development rights to consider,” says Charlotte. “This means that they can often be erected without the need for additional planning permission (however, it is important to check before proceeding). Buildings and other structures related to recreational horses are not agricultural and will not fall under not one of these exemptions. As such, not all new structures must be permanent, so they must be able to be moved on the ground and must not remain in the same position. Nor must they represent a change of use of the field from agriculture to horseback riding.

Bringing horses onto your property can be troublesome. It’s worth seeking legal advice before doing so to make sure you’re following the law. For further information please contact Charlotte Boyes on 01482 398829, email [email protected] or visit our website here.