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‘Pet Ponies Must Go’, Planners Rule

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

Animal lovers should be aware that planning laws can put a block on their activities, as was illustrated by a case in which a woman who was ordered to remove a stable – and her children’s three pet ponies – from her relatively modest garden failed in a High Court bid to overturn the decision.

The woman had been issued with a local authority enforcement notice on the basis that the use of her domestic garden for stabling ponies amounted to an unauthorised change of use. Her appeal to a central government planning inspector was subsequently dismissed.

Challenging that decision, the woman argued that the ponies were pets, beloved by her children, and that they were not much bigger than sheep or goats. She also submitted that the height of the stable block had been over-estimated by three inches and that it fell within the ambit of permitted development rights.

However, in rejecting the woman’s appeal as unarguable, the Court noted that, even if the stable had been incorrectly measured, the inspector had made a finding that a change of use had occurred and this was fatal to her case. There was no discernible error of law in the inspector’s decision and her claim was ‘bound to fail’.

The woman was ordered to contribute £750 towards the legal costs run up by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in defending the claim.

In his decision, the inspector had noted that the woman’s rear garden was visible from the upstairs windows of adjoining homes and that the visual impact was ‘significant’. He added, “Notwithstanding the rural setting, the keeping of horses in a relatively modest garden area could give rise to smells and attract flies, largely because of the inevitable manure.”

Before you undertake any alteration to your property that might be seen as a change of use, contact us for advice on your legal position.

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