COUNCILLORS have reined in a Wigan stud farm scheme amid concerns about homes being built in the green belt.
They have now deferred making any decision on the up-market project - stallions will be worth up to £200,000 each - until after making a site visit to the leafy proposed location in Haigh.
Aspull-New Springs Whelley councillor John Hilton summed up the development committee’s concerns when he challenged it to be “absolutely sure” what it was dealing with in the application.
He said: “There are a scattering of houses in this very area of the green belt which were built for so-called farm managers which have then been sold off privately and I don’t want to see any more of it.”
Applicant Warren Clarke wants to bring top-rated stallions to a purpose-built centre off Sennicar Lane and plans to use the very latest artificial insemination techniques to help put mares in foal around the country. He aims to tap into the lucrative world of equine dressage.
But residents who live near the proposed location are protesting about possible disturbance in a green belt area.
They are particularly concerned about the revving engines of heavy horse boxes winding down to the rural location. Five neighbours have sent individual protests to the Town Hall while another 12 occupiers have signed a joint letter of objection.
Mr Clarke wants to erect a temporary two-bedroomed home to manage the stud farm and has applied to change the use and extend an existing agricultural building to create an indoor riding arena, stables and a tack room.
He claims that the farm needs a home - he has applied initially for three years’ temporary permission - to provide a permanent 24-hour presence for animal welfare and security reasons.
Mr Clarke, who runs a similar business currently in Charnock Richard, envisages nine stallions at stud. He said he has spent more than £410,000 already buying the land and improving the drainage.
He has already developed a lucrative market for breeding stock for dressage. But the new business would allow it to diversify into the supply of equine semen from the stallions via artificial insemination, allowing the best stallions to put mares based around the country into foal.
The objectors complain that the farm represents an unacceptable impact on the green belt and breaches the protection the policy is designed to afford.
Several also claim that the business plan put forward by Mr Clarke to justify the development is “insufficient” and there is no yardstick locally with which to compare it.
They also point out that the applicant purchased the land in the knowledge that although titled Rothwell’s Farm, there was no dwelling remaining.
Council building control manager Graham Dickman said that although a permanent dwelling has been planned at the site in the past, this application was for a “fairly modest building” and for a temporary three-year permission.
He pointed out that equestrian businesses were “not unusual” in the green belt and to be operated in close proximuity to residential properties.