Planning Permission for Keeping Horses

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Planning Permission for Keeping Horses

We are frequently asked what planning permissions are required to keep horses. Our H&H Equestrian Team are well versed in supporting all types of equestrian clients whether for business or private use through the planning process. Wherever your needs sit upon that spectrum, H&H Equestrian can offer support.

What does ‘keeping horses’ include?

This includes keeping horses for:

When do landowners require planning permission?

Generally all equestrian use will require planning permission with a ‘change of use’ for any land and full planning permission for any new structures.

It is possible to put stables up within the curtilage of a private dwelling without planning (under Permitted Development Rights) but any land used for grazing or exercising may need a ‘change of use’ application.

If you have existing barns on agricultural land that you wish to convert to stables it may be necessary to obtain ‘Change of Use’ permission.

‘Change of Use’ can occur within a class of building or when the land or building are changing from one classification to another.

Is planning permission always necessary to build stables?

As long as you have permission to keep the horses on your previously residential land (i.e. in your garden) and you are keeping the horses for ‘personal enjoyment’ you may not be required to obtain planning permission to build stables. This is down to Permitted Development Rights allowing you to build adjacent to you house, however these rights only apply if the stables are within a certain size. In addition, your horses must be for your private leisure and not as a business for riding lessons or to offer paid livery.

An alternative option is to use temporary structures in lieu of obtaining full planning for stables. Field shelters, on skids, can be used without planning permission as long as certain criteria are met.

Keeping horses on agricultural land

Where agricultural land is used for the grazing of livestock or making of hay alongside the grazing of horse no planning permission is required. The land must not be used for the exercising of horses though.

A Change of Use application will be required where the land is used solely for the grazing and/or the exercising of horses.

Change of Use Permissions

Change of use permissions are generally needed in the following cases:

Change of Use applications are often case specific so please do get in touch if you would like more information.

Business Rates

Business rates and equestrian property becomes a complex matter and something that is a common debate in the equestrian industry. Howkins & Harrison Equestrian can help you to make sure your business is correctly rated and that ahead of expanding your business, you are aware of the rating implications any new facilities might bring.

Limited Use of Land for Equestrian Events

Short-term equestrian events are permitted without planning permission for up to 28 days per year, for events such as gymkhanas or cross-country riding events. However, all related structures must be removed after the event as finished and be stored elsewhere. This time includes the setting up and clearing up of any events.

H&H Equestrian

If you are considering a change of use for your land or have a significant project involving complex planning and grant funding applications, or if you simply wish to ask some advice of our team, please email or

Please also take a read of our case study of Newbold Verdon Equestrian Centre. H&H Equestrian Surveyor Anna Meynell supported the centre through a major grant funding and build programme allowing the centre to play a significant role in the future training plans for British Eventing.

Please take a read of our H&H Equestrian Case Study: Newbold Verdon Equestrian Centre

equestrian property