A national equestrian organisation has spoken of its disappointment that Bradford Council is considering letting 600 houses be built on the site of a riding school.
The British Equestrian Federation is urging officials to consider what the community could lose if Throstle Nest Riding School was forced off the site it rents at Fagley Quarry.
An outline planning application for the houses and a nursery was lodged with the Council earlier this year on behalf of the Marshall family, which owns the quarry, and the local authority, which also owns some of the land.
Now the BEF’s head of sport development, Alex Copeland, has written to the Council, telling of its backing for the Fagley Lane-based school.
The letter says: “I am writing to offer BEF support to the team at Throstle Nest Equestrian Centre and to express our concern at the planning application for the housing development.”
The letter highlights the economic benefits of the sport and quotes the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as saying it “makes a hugely important contribution to the economy and social fabric of many communities.”
“Throstle Nest offers a sporting environment that is unique in its geographical location in the centre of Bradford,” the letter adds.
“There are not many other community sporting outlets in the immediate location and Throstle Nest offers horse riding to different cultures and socio-economic groups who may not readily see horse riding as a sport accessible to them.”
Sarah Hamilton, of the Riding for Disabled Group which uses the site, said the BEF had been a huge support. She said planning the centre’s future was difficult as the riding school did not know when the planning meeting would be heard.
After initially being told it could be in May, she has now been told it could be August.
She said: “It’s finding somewhere that isn’t going to be built on and is as close to the city centre as we are now. We don’t want to be miles out in the middle of nowhere.”
A 52-page design statement, submitted with the planning applications, gives more details about the proposals and refers to community consultation carried out in 2012.
It says: “The site’s origins lie in the quarrying for natural Yorkshire stone and are believed to have begun in the mid 19th Century. “The Marshall family has been involved since the 1920s and continues to quarry some of the finest Yorkstone today.
“The site however is separated from the industrial heart of Bradford and its location amid an extensive residential zone makes it ill placed for industrial business. The quarry’s long-term future is economically unviable, therefore the proposal for a residential development on this brownfield site would assist in providinghousing to satisfy future need.”
A Marshall spokesman said the Council had encouraged the submission of “a comprehensive redevelopment of the quarry and surrounding land.”