Brackenwood equestrian site to go before national park committee

Hannah Hurvenes-Clarke and Nick Clarke at Brackenwood CONTRIBUTED PICTURE
Hannah Hurvenes-Clarke and Nick Clarke at Brackenwood CONTRIBUTED PICTURE

A controversial development is set to go before planners today (September 10).

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) planning committee will debate a change of use of land at Brackenwood on Telegraph Hill at Easebourne.

Polo patron Nick Clarke, who has been carrying out equestrian activity at Brackenwood for ten years, said he hoped to establish a ‘world-class dressage centre to breed and train horses to compete in international competitions’, with the application including storage rooms for tack, feed, equine treatments and first aid, storage areas and an exercise track.

However officers have recommended the committee refuses the application on the grounds the site is in a ‘remote and tranquil location which contributes to the prevailing historic landscape character that is sensitive to change’.

Officers added: “Its use for equestrian purposes and the unauthorised development facilitating this use harm its character and appearance and consequently the prevailing historic landscape character. The noise and disturbance from the activities of the equestrian use would harm the amenity and the area’s tranquillity.”

The application has received more than 500 comments online. Objector Anne Reynolds described the development as failing to ‘conserve the natural beauty of the landscape’. But in support of the application, Marcus Adams said Brackenwood would contribute ‘£350,000 annually to the local economy.’

Mr Clarke, who runs Brackenwood with his daughter Hannah, said: “Brackenwood is a modest horse breeding and training facility in the South Downs National Park.

“We are dedicated to providing the highest standards of welfare for horses and are part of the local economy.

“I have a passion for polo while Hannah competes in dressage at international level. The South Downs National Park’s initial objections seemed to be associated with polo as they had earlier approved plans for a dressage arena. To try and address this we have taken all the polo horses away and pledged that we will only use Brackenwood for dressage. But it appears they have all horses in their target. We need facilities like these in order to give young people the opportunity to build on the success Team GB had in the 2012 Olympics.”

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