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Callum Park riding school in Lower Halstow set to close and become eco-home development

By Poppy Jeffery

A successful horse riding centre is to shut next year after funding cuts, with an eco-home development on the horizon.

The owners of Callum Park riding school in Basser Hill, Lower Halstow, and the Kent Equine Academy, set up their businesses more than 30 years ago and have taught more than 20,000 people to ride.

However, funding has been withdrawn for the education business, which was the only thing keeping the family operation going.

What Callum Park could look like.
What Callum Park could look like.

Owners John and Louise McGee had the task of working out what to do next, and have submitted a major planning application to knock down the stables and build nine eco-homes alongside their own house as the “only realistic hope of continuing our tenure at Callum Park”.

A statement on the school’s website insists it will be business as usual for at least the next year, with no final closure date announced.

It adds: “Things have been tough financially for most people these last nine years, but the riding school has been particularly hard hit with the unending squeeze on family incomes.

Stock photo.
Stock photo.

Senior horses will be kept and retired to live in the pair’s stables, whereas the younger animals will be found homes for.

Existing stables, three riding areas, and car park will make way for the detached homes, garages, paths and landscaping.

Its owners say the development has many benefits including it being on a brownfield site, an 85% reduction in traffic, reduction in light and noise pollution and continuity of ownership.

“The whole operation has only been kept afloat by the income received by our education business. This education funding has now been withdrawn which unfortunately now takes matters out of our hands.”

Margaret Bridges, an employee of several years, supports the application: “As sad as it is to see the closure of what was once a thriving business, it would be even sadder to see some of the alternatives to this site that may well result if the scheme was not to go ahead.”

To read more visit tinyurl.com/CallumPark

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