Mid Suffolk: Riding centre bids to expand

THE team at a leading Suffolk equestrian centre has applied to expand the site to offer more space for undercover riding.

The Topthorn Equestrian Centre at Grove Farm, between Stonham Aspal and Debenham, is a purpose-built 25-acre site offering a range of indoor and outdoor facilities.

The new proposal is for the expansion of the existing indoor training area that would see the coffee shop extended.

The application also seeks retrospective permission to retain external lighting and an overflow car park area at the centre, which was created on a former industrial site.

Nigel Foulger, who owns and runs the site with his wife Tracey, said the changes would increase the size of the indoor arena by a quarter.

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He said: “The main indoor arena is already the largest one in the area and the coffee shop oversees the whole length and this is just an extension to really make it that much better.”

In a design and access statement submitted to Mid Suffolk District Council with the application, Mr Foulger said: “Now that the centre is well established it would be advantageous to have more space within the covered riding area.

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“The building was originally carefully designed to fit in with the landscape with various earthworks and tree planting.

“This we believe has been successfully achieved and the proposal now is for two additional bays at the far end which will have little effect on the overall appearance of the building and will be hardly noticed from the public highway.”

The council’s tree and landscape officer David Mitchell has provided feedback to planning officials about the outdoor lighting and lack of landscaping to minimise its impact.

He said: “I dislike raised lighting in open countryside, as it adds to the loss of true darkness and draws attention to artificial development, spoiling what could otherwise be a tranquil rural landscape.

“I also have to concede that every farm building, utility installation and domestic front garden in the countryside is now so generally equipped with powerful security lighting that adding a few more into the general mix probably makes not much difference.”

The application will be decided at a later date.

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