Polo Guru Fights Planners Over 'World Class Dressage Centre'

AS the polo season reaches its climax, there is another sort of battle raging off the field in Sussex.

Nick Clarke, whose high goal polo team Salkeld has been taking part in the Gold Cup at Cowdray Park is fighting for planning permission to change of use of land at Brackenwood on Telegraph Hill. to mixed agricultural and equestrian dressage use.In his latest plan he has dropped his fight for polo use of the land.

 He wants permission to keep a controversial barn, but in reconfigured form, as well as a horse walker, wash down area, manure ramp, hay store, access track, parking and manoeuvring areas and an exercise track.
 It is the latest twist in a long running planning battle which began in 2010 when Mr Clark was refused permission to erect a stable building at Brackenwood by Chichester District Council where planners said it would be a ‘significant built form in an isolated position’.

Since then Mr Clarke has tried four times to get retrospective planning permission at Brackenwood - every time without success.

And when he appealed against one of these decisions both a government planning inspector and the high court threw his appeal out.

His battle moved to the national park when it was set up four years ago and took over planning.

After past applications the park has said: “Wherever possible we always try to fix breaches in planning through negotiation but almost everything on this remote and highly sensitive site is unauthorised, does not have planning permission and is therefore subject to enforcement action.”

Mr Clarke’s latest proposal comes after taking ‘pre-application advice’ when he changed his plan from polo to dressage use and now he has now submitted it an a formal application.

Objections have been registered, but high profile supporters are backing his fight including some of the world’s best known high goal polo players and the marquess of Milford Haven who has fought similar battles at Milland.

Nick Clarke said: “We have received a fantastic response from local people, and others who love horses, for our campaign to save Brackenwood. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to support our application.

“Brackenwood contributes £350,000 annually to the local economy. This includes local goods, services and employment for local people who want to live and work in the countryside. All this is at risk if our application is refused.

“We have made significant changes to our plans to address previous comments from the South Downs National Park. We hope that the SDNP will now promote a rural way of life and choose to save the local jobs provided through our world-class dressage centre.”



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