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Wealden District Council has given retrospective planning consent for a riding arena at Faircote Hall and stud, Hartfield in East Sussex, and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has refused the society’s request to call in the controversial application.
The arena had been built unlawfully, without planning consent. Furthermore, it crosses a public footpath leading to the famous Poohsticks Bridge in Ashdown Forest.
The council has given planning consent to Mr and Mrs Ben Praagh of Faircote Hall, Chuck Hatch, but the consent is subject to the public footpath being lawfully diverted within two years. If it is not, the riding arena must be demolished.
Says our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook: ‘We are dismayed at this decision. The sandschool was built across the public footpath, illegally blocking it until East Sussex County Council took enforcement action. This is a popular route, in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The applicants will have great difficulty in diverting this route as any application will receive widespread opposition.
‘The council should not have endorsed this unlawful development. Instead it should have required the applicants to remove the offending sandschool and then apply for planning consent for a sandschool which respects the current route of the footpath and the natural beauty of the area.
‘We shall fight this doggedly. The development is a blot on the landscape and severely interferes with people’s enjoyment of this important footpath,’ Kate concludes.
The planning application was opposed by East Sussex County Council, Hartfield Parish Council, the Ramblers and many others.