Equestrian plans approved despite locals’ road fears

Alnwick Ford Equestrian wants to be able to hold competitions at its indoor and outdoor arenas. Picture by Jane Coltman
Alnwick Ford Equestrian wants to be able to hold competitions at its indoor and outdoor arenas. Picture by Jane Coltman

Plans to host competitions at a north Northumberland equestrian centre have been given the go-ahead despite concerns about roads.

The application, by Alnwick Ford Equestrian, based near Longframlington, was unanimously approved at Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

The permission means the business will be able to host around 12 competitions and about 156 events/demonstrations annually, in the existing indoor arena and outdoors on a cross-country circuit.

Local ward member, Coun Trevor Thorne, raised the highways issue, particularly in relation to the bottleneck at Alnwick Fords Bridge, where there have been anecdotal reports of accidents.

Kevin Johnson, whose son Martin runs Alnwick Ford, said: “It will, without doubt, bring revenue to the area and create further jobs.”

Backing the scheme, Coun Richard Dodd said: “The equestrian pound is growing in leaps and bounds and has done over the last 20 years. It’s an industry in its own right. Where else do we put an equestrian facility other than out in rural areas where, as we all know, the roads aren’t the best.”

The alterations are needed as the previous permission for this site carried forward an existing condition from a previous operator’s application to exclude events and competitions, but the relevance of this condition was not fully understood by the current operators.

Objectors’ concerns focused almost exclusively on the potential issues caused by the additional traffic on the small rural road to the centre and the subsequent risk of accidents. Initially officers raised an issue, which meant the new access has been moved.