Stable plans turned down

AN equestrian enthusiast’s hopes of stabling her competition horses on the edge of a green belt have been dashed.

Villagers living near the site, beside Mare Close Farm in Seghill, raised a 21-name protest petition against the plans.

And Northumberland County Council’s south east area planning committee refused permission for the stables being proposed by endurance rider Lesley Smith at its meeting in Choppington last week.

Councillors ruled that the four stables and storage for feed and machinery would harm the open appearance of the green belt land.

The meeting was told that Mrs Smith, of Kenton in Newcastle, also a director of the family’s plumbing and bathroom firm, had been invited to compete at international level.

Her husband Ray made the application on her behalf, saying he planned to grow hay on the 15 acres he owns at Seghill for her horses and for local sale.

The rejection came a day before Mr Smith was invited by the council to take part in an ideas session on promoting equestrianism in Northumberland held at Longhorsley’s Linden Hall Hotel.

The plan would have created one job and was claimed to be agricultural, making it appropriate for green belt land, he said.

It attracted eight letters of support from residents and businesses.

One objector, Colin Lawson, of Mares Close, said: “This is a green belt under continual threat.”

The only committee member to support the application was Coun Anita Romer, of Seaton Sluice. She said: “Here we have some entrepreneurs who are willing to spend some money in Seghill to bring some sport and recreation to this area.”

She said it was subjective to say it was not agricultural, arguing that the hay production meant it was.

The Smiths intend to appeal against the council’s thumbs-down.