Horse owners angry at council proposal to restrict ‘equestrian developments’

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Horse riders have hit out at Rother council over a proposed change in planning policy which they say discriminates against them.

The authority is consulting on proposed changes to its planning regulations, which will restrict ‘equestrian developments’ which are not close to bridle paths and would force horse riders to use ‘unsuitable roads’.

Rother says the policy will protect road users, riders and the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But opponents say a lack of bridleways in Rother will mean many planning applications are rejected.

Phillip Ball, who lives in Netherfield, is the coordinator for Sussex Horse Watch.

He accused the local authority of ‘trying to remove horses from the area all together”.

Mr Ball said: “If this policy is to be adopted, it would appear that Rother District Council are trying to remove horses from the area all together because due to the lack of bridle paths in Rother, virtually every application will get turned down.

“There’s also a lack of livery yards in the district.

“I would like to point out that central government regulations start that local councils must actively encourage quiet recreational activities.”

Another member of Horse Watch said: “The bridleway system in Rother is poor and horse riders have equal rights to all other modes of transport over the highway system.

“The proposed policy attempts to limit riding activity to areas with good bridleways which simply don’t exist in Rother.”

But the council stressed the proposed policy was aimed at commercial riding schools, livery stables and commercial facilities, rather than individual riders.

The suggested change in policy is part of Rother’s wider Development and Site Allocations Local Plan.

A spokesperson for Rother District Council said: “The consultation still has over a month to run and if anyone has got any views on any aspect of the plan then we very much encourage them to take part in the consultation.”

The consultation runs until Friday February 20.

Residents can view the Development and Site Allocations Local Plan and take part in the consultation by visiting www.rother.gov.uk/consultation

Sussex Horse Watch is preparing its own response - email sussexhorsewatch@gmail.com with your views.

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