A riding school that welcomed Princess Anne just two years ago faces an uncertain future due to a planned housing development in Fagley.
Throstles Nest Riding School is on an area of land near Fagley Quarry – a site which is the subject of an extensive re-development plan.
The Marshall family submitted a planning application for 600 houses and a new “local centre” earlier this week – but the plans have already attracted controversy. The riding school rents land from the family, and says that it objects to the housing plans which could leave the school homeless.
Jeanette Wheeler, proprietor of the school, says over 200 riders a week use the site, and around 50 of these are part of a Riding for the Disabled group. Based at Throstles Nest Farm for 35 years, the site is also home to a pony club. The application is a joint project between the family and Bradford Council, which owns an area of the proposed development. The application said the houses were a response to Bradford’s “chronic housing shortage.”
Princess Anne visited the school to officially open an all-weather arena in April 2012, when she described the club as “fabulous.”
Mrs Wheeler said: “The application would see all the buildings knocked down. The riding school has been around here for 35 years, and if this plan goes ahead we will end up having to close. The plans are to build houses on all the fields we ride on.
“As well as the disabled group there are lots of schools that use these facilities every week. There are the stables and barns that would be knocked down and the arena which was only put up a few years ago. There are 50 disabled riders that come every week, 70 pony club members, and along with the other riders there are well over 200 people who come here a week. We also have a lot of volunteers who come to help, and there are four full time members of staff.
“There aren’t many places around here that we could move to. It is quite central so it is easy for people to get to us by bus.
“In all the planning documents and all the details on the Council website there is barely any mention of us.”
Sue Greenwood, a Riding for Disabled volunteer, said: “I feel that building more houses when there are so many houses around and about that are unoccupied anyway would have a devastating effect on the community as a whole, not only on the riding school. Instead of having beautiful fields to admire, there would just be repetition of the same bricks and mortar for the 600 homes.”
A Marshall family spokesman said: “The Council has encouraged us to submit a comprehensive redevelopment of the quarry and surrounding land, which historically includes the riding school.”