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Plans to turn Callum Park Riding School in Lower Halstow into eco-homes refused by Swale council

By Poppy Jeffery

The owner of a riding school has criticised Swale council after plans to redevelop the site into nine eco-homes were refused.

Callum Park riding school in Basser Hill, Lower Halstow, is due to shut after funding cuts.

It has been running for more than 30 years and has taught more than 20,000 people to ride.

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

John and Louise McGee, the owners, wanted to knock down the school to build the development but the proposals were turned down by the council’s planning committee on October 12 despite support from ward members.

It had been recommended for refusal as the proposals did not fit the adopted Local Plan, the guide to what can be built where.

Mr McGee said: “We had hoped that nine super high-quality executive eco-homes built on brownfield land would be a much welcomed addition to Lower Halstow and would have provided some of the self-build plots, which the council is obligated to provide – but it seems not.

Stock photo.
Stock photo.

“It looks bleak for self-builders in Swale as the only house-building opportunity on the horizon is limited to large developer-led estates – so much for choice and balance in our planning system.”

The council report read: “The proposal would amount to residential development in the open countryside and within an area of high landscape value, in an unsustainable location isolated from any defined settlement.

“The change in the character, appearance and functioning of the site would harm the intrinsic value, character and appearance of the countryside, and would fail to protect a valued landscape.”

Swale council
Swale council

It added that the benefits would not outweigh the harm, saying: “The application was considered to be fundamentally unacceptable and it was not possible to offer solutions to mitigate the harm identified.”

Mr and Mrs McGee have the option to appeal the decision and ask a government planning inspector to make a judgement. The appeal must be lodged before November 10.

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