News – Temporary Dwelling at Grange Farm

1.0    Introduction
I have been instructed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council to assess the application for a temporary dwelling at Grange Farm. In assessing this application I have read:
•    Report prepared by Leonard Holihan •    Business Plan dated March 2008 •    ‘Gross Margin Assumptions and Budget’ •    ‘Examples of Successful Home Bred Ponies’
•    Plans
I have referred to ‘Planning Policy Statement 7’ (PPS7) in assessing the application together with ‘The Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys’ (Second Edition) 2006.
The Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys (Second Edition) was produced by the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC).
‘The compendium of welfare guidelines has been produced to promote sound welfare and management practices and contains recommendations to assist horse owners, keepers and others to achieve high standards of animal welfare.’
2.0    The Site
2.1    The site is said to be 40 acres (16 hectares) and consists, or will consist upon completion of works, the following:
•    Farmhouse •    Barn converted to 6 boxes •    Barn converted to accommodate 20 boxes •    50m x 20m manege
• • •
Hay barn Single storey amenity building 3 units of accommodation as holiday lets
3.0    The Enterprise
3.1    The enterprise will comprise of the following main activities:
•    Stud with 1 stallion covering third party owned mares •    5 broodmares producing 3 to 4 foals per year to be sold at 6-8 months
old •    Livery including: full; part; DIY •    Holiday accommodation including horse B & B •    Holiday accommodation for clients to use the applicants’ own horses
4.0    Temporary Agricultural Dwellings
4.1    The application includes a temporary dwelling which is assessed according to Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7). Paragraph 12 of Annex A states that the following criteria should be satisfied:
(i) clear evidence of a firm intention and ability to develop the enterprise concerned
There would appear to be a firm intention to develop the business. The applicants have already obtained planning permission for use of the site and the conversion of the buildings etc. PPS7 states that a significant investment in new farm buildings is often a good indication of intentions. The ‘Margins and Profit Projections’ in Appendix III indicate that an investment of £147,000 will be made to complete the development.
(ii) functional need.    See ‘Functional Test’ below.
(iii) clear evidence that the proposed enterprise has been planned on a sound financial basis. See ‘Finance’ below.
(iv) the functional need could not be fulfilled by another existing dwelling on the unit, or any other existing accommodation in the area which is suitable and available for occupation by the workers concerned; and.    See ‘Comment – Second Dwelling’ below.
(v) other normal planning requirements, e.g. on siting and access, are satisfied.
5.0    Functional Test
Paragraph 4 states: A functional test is necessary to establish whether it is essential for the proper functioning of the enterprise for one or more workers to be readily available at most times. Such a requirement might arise, for example, if workers are needed to be on hand day and night:
(i)    in case animals or agricultural processes require essential care at short notice;
(ii)    to deal quickly with emergencies that could otherwise cause serious loss of crops or products, for example, by frost damage or the failure of automatic systems.
5.1    Horses do not as a general rule require attention during the night. It is usually sufficient to check on horses at approximately 10.30pm and to return to check them at approximately 7.00am the following morning. The ‘Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys (Second Edition) 2006’ states:
‘Horses kept in stables and yards should be inspected for signs of injury and ill health at least twice a day.’
5.2    Horses at grass are usually less at risk of injury, subject to being kept on suitable paddocks, and as long as they are checked late at night will not need to be checked until morning. The ‘Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys (Second Edition) 2006’ states:
‘Horses turned out in paddocks should be inspected for body condition, signs of injury, ill health, ill-fitting halters and rugs and the availability of food and water at least once a day.’
5.2    Breeding Broodmares require expert supervision in order to notice early signs of ill health or early stages of foaling. The ‘Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys (Second Edition) 2006’ states:
‘Mares in late pregnancy should be checked at least twice daily for signs of impending foaling and far more frequently as the time of foaling approaches.’
My own opinion is that particularly during the last month before foaling is due, much more regular checking should be carried out from early in the morning until last thing at night. An experienced horseman would notice very early signs of ill health. Mares will usually give very clear indication of imminent foaling i.e. within 48 hours. Once the mare is showing signs of foaling she should be watched constantly, either by CCTV, observation box or by constant checks. A mare should never be allowed to foal by herself. Once the mare has foaled and been examined by a veterinary surgeon, provided they are both well they would not need to be checked during the night.
5.3    The applicants intend to have five broodmares. Although broodmares will need supervision during foaling and therefore attendance at night, this will be for the duration of the foaling season only. This does not, therefore, by itself fulfil the functional requirement of 24 hour supervision for most of the year.
5.4    Stallions One stallion is to be kept on site. Because of the nature of stallions, it is preferable that they are supervised at all times. It is essential that a stallion is stabled at night to ensure that he cannot gain access to other horses. Having read the information supplied relating to the ponies bred at Silverfield Stud the stallion in this particular case, although no details have been provided, is clearly a very small pony. However, it is my opinion that a functional requirement exists where a stallion is on site.
5.5    Liveries The ‘Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys (Second Edition) 2006’ states:
‘Horses kept in stables and yards should be inspected for signs of injury and ill health at least twice a day.’
However, it is a fact that stabled horses are at risk of becoming cast and although it is relatively rare it can have serious consequences, sometimes leading to death. Owners sending their horses would undoubtedly expect there to be on site supervision and if it did not exist they would probably not send their horses.    Owners would also expect someone to be on site in case of intruders, horse attackers, thieves etc. Paragraph 6 states: ‘The protection of livestock from theft or injury by intruders may contribute on animal welfare grounds to the need for a new agricultural dwelling, although it will not by itself be sufficient to justify    one.’    However, if there was no one living on site the business would be seriously affected and this could prevent its future viability, particularly as a substantial part of the income is from liveries.
6.0    Labour Requirement
6.1    The ‘Equine Business Guide’, published by Warwickshire College 5th edition 2005, demonstrates that the Standard Man Days calculations equate to two full-time workers (excluding the labour requirement of the holiday lets) when
operating with 5 broodmares and 4 foals. The addition of liveries from tourism will increase the labour requirement accordingly.
7.0    Finance
7.1    Paragraph 12 (iii) states ‘clear evidence that the proposed enterprise has been plannedona soundfinancialbasis’.
7.2    The applicants have provided a breakdown of optimum sales and costs. The success of an enterprise depends in part on the proximity of competitors, the services offered and fees charged. To some extent any business will need to adapt the business plan to the available market for its services once it starts trading. There may be a greater demand, for example, for part liveries than for full liveries. However, the applicants have attempted to allow for some void periods by using industry guidelines.
7.3    The projected income from the sales of foals is based on 5 foals being sold although the report prepared August 2009 refers to the stud producing ‘3 or 4 ponies per year’. Information relating to recent sales of the applicants’ ponies has not been included but I feel that the projected figures may be rather high particularly given the effect on horse/pony prices of the economic downturn.
7.4    Accordingly, the projections are unlikely to be achieved in the first year of operation. However, the business plan seems to have been prepared thoroughly and indicates a realistic prospect of achieving a profit in the future.
8.0    Comment – Second Dwelling
8.1    It is established that a functional requirement exists for a member of staff to be on site at most times. This requirement is fulfilled by the existing dwelling on site, occupied by the applicant and her husband. For planning permission to be granted for a second dwelling on site it would be necessary to demonstrate that a second worker must be readily available at most times for the proper functioning of the enterprise.
8.2    The report, ‘4.0 Reasons for the Proposed Dwelling’, states the following reasons for applying for the temporary dwelling on the site:
a) Circumstances when two people need to be on site to deal with specific animals in case of emergency.
b) Mares often have foals in the night; this can require two people to be present, one to deal with the mare and the other to deal with the foal.
c)    Fire – Mrs Morton explained that in the event of a fire two people would be needed to release the horses safely.
8.3    Whilst it is accepted that in line with industry guideline calculations there is a need for two workers to care for the horses/ponies, this is not a need for a second worker to be on site at night. The need for actual attendance of the horses at night relates only to the broodmares during the foaling season. The requirement for the remainder of the year is not for attendance but to reassure owners of visiting mares and liveries in case of emergency.
8.4    Two people are certainly needed when covering mares but this will only take place during the daytime and does not contribute to any functional need. There is only one stallion, a small pony, and is unlikely to be difficult to handle.
8.5    The horses/ponies will be stabled in two separate buildings. The ‘Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines Compendium for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys (Second Edition) 2006’ states:
‘Design advice is important when constructing or modifying a building. There should be provision for livestock to be released and evacuated quickly in the event of emergency. Consideration should be given to installing fire alarm systems that can be heard and acted upon at any time of day or night.’
‘Horse owners/keepers and those working with horses should be able to identify the potential for fire starting in stables and other buildings. A fire risk assessment should be undertaken to identify what could start a fire, what are
the combustible materials present and who, including any animals, would be at risk should fire break out. The hazards identified should be eliminated or reduced.’
‘Expert advice on all fire precautions can be obtained from fire prevention officers of the local fire service and from the Fire Prevention Association. A pre incident planning form should be logged with the local fire service. Advice on all health and safety matters can be obtained from local Health and Safety Executive offices.’
8.6    In the case of a fire the emergency services would need to be notified immediately and the horses in the building most at risk evacuated. Procedures for dealing with fire breakouts in specific parts of the site should be established immediately horses are on site to reduce the risk of injury. It is noted that the applicant’s husband lives on site and it is presumed that he would help with evacuating horses. In addition, if holiday clients are on site they would also help. The site plan shows that the farmhouse is situated closer to both of the barns housing the horses than the proposed siting of the caravan.
8.7    I do not consider that the enterprise has been shown to have a functional requirement for two workers to be on site at most times.
9.0    Conclusion
9.1    A functional need for a person to be on site at night exists, however, this is mainly in a supervisory capacity in case of emergency. With regard to third party owned broodmares and liveries, because clients would be reluctant to send their horses if there was not 24 hour supervision, the business would not be viable without on site accommodation. The presence on site of foaling mares does not by itself fulfil a functional need because the foaling season is for a short period during the year.
9.2    The business plan provided would seem to indicate that the business could be viable inthefutureandthereforethefinancialtestwouldseemtobefulfilled.
9.3    The functional need for a person to be on site is fulfilled by an existing dwelling on the unit and occupied by the applicant. It is not essential for the proper functioning of the enterprise for a second worker to be readily available at most times, although clearly there will be occasions when two people are required. As such, the functional requirement for a second worker is not fulfilled. The application for a second dwelling does not, therefore, fulfil the criteria of the PPS7.