Stonham Aspal: Proposals to expand equestrian centre’s outdoor arena

Nigel Foulger in the arena at the Topthorne Equestrian Centre

Nigel Foulger in the arena at the Topthorne Equestrian Centre

A businessman wants his equestrian centre “put on the map” with a major new extension to an outdoor arena.

Topthorn Equestrian Centre, in Stonham Aspal, near Debenham, has applied to extend its surfaced outdoor arena by up to 500m2.

If approved the move would “substantially increase” the space available for horses using the outdoor facility.

Owner Nigel Foulger, 63, runs the centre with his wife Tracie. He said: “It gives us more flexibility – last year everyone was indoors as the weather was so poor. This year the reverse has been true.

“This will mean we will be able to run outdoor shows at the same time as indoor – we will be able to run two shows at a time.

“This should provide extra employment – events will last longer - there should be turnover increases and profit increases.” The extension, like the existing outdoor arena, will be frost-proof to -8C (18F).

In 2011 the centre, which has been running since November 2008, won planning approval to create a £800,000 extension to its indoor arena.

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The extension made it one of the biggest centres in the region.

“This season turnover has increased slightly and we have seen a lot of new people,” Mr Foulger said.

“July and August were our worst months in terms of turnover but we have maintained it which is a good thing.”

Mid Suffolk District Council is expected to make a decision on the plans by October 15.

Mr Foulger said the extension would help put the centre “on the map”. He added he wanted the work to begin early in the New Year.

The centre also has five other outdoor arenas and covered waiting areas for horses and riders.

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