A property sector that’s got legs?

If a property included a manège with herringbone drainage, a derby bank and a livery business would you know what it is?

These of course are all features of equestrian properties, a market sector that could be set to expand following recent changes to government planning rules.

Last year the new National Planning Policy Framework included guidelines to support the ‘sustainable growth and expansion of all types of business and enterprise in rural areas’, both through the conversion of existing buildings and ‘well-designed’ new ones. This, it is expected, could make converting redundant farm structures to equestrian use much easier, experts say.

The changes will benefit those with small or medium-size farms that are unable to find a buyer in their present form by making it easier to either convert them or gain planning permission prior to sale.

What this all does to prices is debatable. There are only around 300 equestrian properties on the market at the moment and until now this lack of supply has created prices that are some 15-20% more than comparable non-equestrian properties. More coming on to the market may reduce this premium, of course.

Many of my clients seeking an equestrian property are those who already keep horses in livery but who now want to buy their own amenities and live nearby. But the biggest concern is not usually the facilities but rather the land – ten acres is often too small and most are looking for at least 30 acres.

Therefore, my job is a hard one. The main home needs to be large enough to accommodate the family to a standard they are used to while at the very least there need to be outbuildings that could be converted into stables and/or a manège (training arena). And if there’s not enough land then there need to be fields nearby to rent or that may be available for sale.

But overall such relaxation of what used to be very strict planning rules in the countryside can only be a good thing for anyone looking for an equestrian property that won’t break the bank.

To read the National Planning Policy Framework please click here.

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