PLANS for a 'huge' equestrian centre in the countryside have been kicked out by councillors who raised concerns about development in the strategic gap. 

Test Valley Borough Council's planning committee voted against its officers' recommendation and refused the scheme for riding stables on a field northeast of Manor Farm, Chilworth Old Village. 

Despite it being recommended for permission, the southern area planning committee voted to refuse it at a meeting on Tuesday, November 7. 

Ten members voted against it with one abstention. They raised concerns about its potential impact on the local gap and the size of the stable building. 

Malcolm Henley, from Chilworth Parish Council, spoke in objection. He said: “We object to the site location. There is no essential need for this type of development. We have existing equestrian facilities. 

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“Chilworth Old Village is worthy of protection. It will infringe on the local gap. The design is not compatible with the character of the area. The huge size of the site can't be justified for private equestrian use.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Chilworth site entrance

Neil Joseph spoke on behalf of objecting Chilworth residents.

He said: “We are deeply invested in preserving the unique character of the village. Chilworth is a rare gem with a serene rural landscape.

"We have no objections to horses being there, but we are concerned about the increase in infrastructure and traffic. We ask to to continue to safeguard this land.”

The planning application had been submitted by Sam and Terry Davis. Their agent Alex Webb said: “The applicants want to provide a forever home for their horses. The site has been previously used for grazing. The facilities are the bare minimum needed for the horses. 

“The built form is set back to reduce the visual impact. There will be no harm to existing trees or hedges.”

Cllr Terese Swain, who represents the Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams ward, spoke in objection.

She said: “The building design is not compatible with the old village. 

“It has total disrespect for the local gap. You have no option but to refuse this application. The size and scale of the development will compromise the gap. The sheer size of this is not appropriate for private use. 

“This application does not enhance the character of the area.”

The committee agreed with the objections. Cllr Philip Bundy said: “The officers are telling us that this is essential for the countryside. But is it reasonable? 

“There are similar facilities in the area. I think it will be visible from the A27.”

Cllr Karen Dunleavey said: “Chilworth is a very special place. It's a very large building for the local gap. We wouldn't allow a house of that size.”

Cllr John Parker said: “I've long been an advocate for the preservation of local gaps. This will have a significant impact on the impression of the local gap.”

The committee agreed to refuse the application.