Country cousins

“He’s in The Guards and only comes down at weekends”. Someone talking about their son, maybe, or a friend? No, the owner of a horse explaining to a planning officer why the animal was stabled in the outbuilding of a Worcestershire pub which lacked the one acre of grazing land demanded by local plan policy. Oh, we could write a book, we really could.

Anyway, those working in rural areas will know that it is important to distinguish between land on which horses are being kept and land on which horses are being grazed. This is where Sykes v Secretary of State for the Environment and Another [1981] comes in. This case was cited in (DCS Number 400-016-350) which concerns an enforcement notice directed at the equestrian use of agricultural land in Somerset. The inspector explained that:-

“The judgement in Sykes established that simply turning horses out onto land with a view to feeding them from the land amounts to grazing. What does not fall within the definition of agriculture is the keeping of horses, but the Sykes judgement recognised that horses may be both grazed and kept in the same place. In determining which of these is the primary use, the question that must be addressed is “what is the purpose for which the land is being used?”

In the case before him the inspector judged that the character of the use of the land had remained agricultural. The pony was grazing a small portion of the land, associated temporary fencing was used for grazing management, and a building/structure was used primarily for agricultural rather than equestrian purposes. As a matter of fact and degree he considered that there had not been a change of use of the land from agricultural to a mixed use of agricultural and equestrian. He quashed the notice.

In case you were worried about the Guards horse – he was grazed on land belonging to his country cousins.

The following DCP section is relevant: 23.2111


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