An Isle couple have blasted North Lincolnshire Council over what they claim is an ‘extortionate’ planning fee for an indoor riding arena they hope to build.
A quoted £5,390 fee to build the horse schooling facility on their land is too high, claim Alan and Wendy Senior, after they were charged £585 to lay an outdoor sand arena that is now in place.
The pair recently acquired Oakley stables off Godnow Road, Crowle, with its seven-and-a-half acres of land, after falling for the peace and tranquility of the quiet spot.
The former Leeds couple have built a new detached home along with a set of loose boxes for a livery stables, with a tack room and kitchen.
Along with the livery side, in which they hope to employ local people for various positions, the couple are to run a not-for-profit centre with Shetland ‘therapy ponies’, and a cafe to be used by visiting community groups who might benefit from contact with animals.
The Shetland ponies, including a young foal, have been acquired by the Seniors from rescue centres.
Alan Senior, 58, said: “We were shocked by the price of planning permission we’ve been given, and can’t understand the reason for it. We approached local councillors who were amazed themselves, and the initial price we were given for developing the outside sand arena was brought down. But the indoor arena, at 40 metres by 25 metres, is much smaller than the outside one and is right at the back of the site. Why does it cost so much more to build that?”
Wendy, 54, continued: “We will be bringing people in to the area for shows and suchlike, and want to serve the community with our therapy ponies. They can help people such as those with dementia, and children with disabilities. This is something we are doing ourselves and for which we haven’t sought help.”
The couple have a big open day for all their facilities planned for August 30, and hope to have their indoor arena and cafe built and in operation by then.
A spokesperson for North Lincolnshire Council said: “The fees for submitting planning applications are set nationally. For non-domestic developments they are generally based on the amount of floor space of the building to be created.”
The use of ponies and other animals for therapy is not a new idea and has been employed successfully in several other areas.
Stroking the ponies, learning about them, grooming them and helping with their care can all have a beneficial effect. It can also provoke discussion.
Wendy said: “The ponies can even be painted . Contact with them can really help both adults and children.”
She added: “It’s eight weeks now since we applied for planning permission. Worrying about all this is keeping me awake at night.
“It just seems to be delay after delay. We didn’t expect this kind of problem.”