HorseWorld submits planning application for new visitor centre

Proposals significantly changed in response to community feedback

One of the Bristol area’s most popular visitor attractions HorseWorld has now submitted a planning application for its proposed new visitor centre.

If approved, the new centre would safeguard the future of the UK’s leading horse charity, which has been rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming horses for 60 years.

HorseWorld is hoping to build the new visitor centre on its land on the edge of Whitchurch village. The charity has outgrown its existing visitor centre and the buildings are no longer fit-for-purpose – which is why it needs to build a new one. 

By attracting extra visitors, the new centre will generate sufficient income to secure a future for the charity after years of declining donations. Without the new visitor centre HorseWorld’s future remains very uncertain.

HorseWorld – which employs 62 local people and has 140 local volunteers – is also applying for planning permission for an ‘enabling’ development of 125 homes to finance the building of the visitor centre.

The new centre will include a 250-seat indoor equestrian school, a new café which can cater for 200 customers, new play areas for different age-group children, new classrooms for schools and local colleges and an interactive museum. The centre has been designed around a central pathway, through the site, to allow visitors to see much more of the charity’s rehabilitation work.

The architect, Bath-based Stubbs Rich, has used as many of the existing buildings and infrastructure as possible. It has also designed the new buildings and 250-space car park specifically to respect views into the site, with extensive screening and agricultural-style buildings using non-reflective surfaces.

Both planning applications were submitted to Bath & North East Somerset Council after significant changes were made to its original proposals in response to feedback from an extensive public consultation.

Much of that feedback was received following a public exhibition it held in March, attended by 123 people. Many attending the exhibition were very supportive of the plans. A number of concerns were raised, which the team has been seeking to address over the past few weeks.

Significant changes to the original proposals - resulting directly from issues raised through the consultation – include:

Ø  A new, extra entrance into the housing development from Sleep Lane to create a new speed-restricted road through the housing development. This should help ease congestion at one of the village’s key ‘pinch-points’ where Sleep Lane meets Staunton Lane, by offering drivers an alternative route.

Ø  Traffic calming measures on Sleep Lane, a well-used local ‘rat-run’. As well as diverting traffic through the new road, HorseWorld proposes to introduce give-way signs and kerbing to restrict and better manage the flow of traffic along the northern end of Sleep Lane.

Ø  New pedestrian safety measures. To make it safer to walk through the village, HorseWorld is proposing a new pavement along Staunton Lane, giving safe access into the village from HorseWorld and its neighbouring properties. This new pavement will loop through the HorseWorld site at the point where Staunton Lane simply becomes too narrow.

Ø  A new pedestrian crossing. To safely link the new Staunton Lane pavement with the other paths into the village, HorseWorld is proposing a new zebra crossing. This will make it safer for pedestrians, including those visiting HorseWorld and for children walking to school from the new housing development.

In addition to its critical work rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming horses, HorseWorld also does a great deal of work with young people - many vulnerable and disadvantaged - as well as supporting local schools, colleges and the emergency services.

“We’ve had a huge amount of support from the community during the past few months. Clearly people really value the important work done by our dedicated staff and volunteers,” said HorseWorld’s managing director Mark Owen.

“From the feedback we’ve received, it’s clear lots of people are very excited by the plans. But there have also been concerns raised. So, during the past few weeks, the team has been working diligently to address those issues.

“The new revised plans include a number of significant changes resulting directly from the consultation. In particular we’ve added measures that will have a really positive impact on some of the existing traffic and pedestrian safety problems. I think the final plans show we’ve been sensitive to local concerns and worked hard to tackle as many of the issues raised as we can. 

“I cannot overstate how important the new visitor centre is to the survival of HorseWorld. The plans come at a time when there are more horses than ever needing our help. Without the new visitor centre, I fear for the many horses which need our care.”

For more information please contact Stephen Poole on 01275 893021.


Article by: Amy Williams

Posted on: 9th November 2013