Horse owner loses two-year shelter battle

LEFT OUT IN THE COLD ... Norman Keenleyside.

LEFT OUT IN THE COLD ... Norman Keenleyside.

AN animal lover has been ordered to demolish a horse shelter after losing the final round of a two-year planning dispute with South Tyneside Council.

Norman Keenleyside built the shelter on green-belt land off Follingsby Lane in West Boldon without first applying for planning permission.

Constructed in timber panels painted black, it was designed to protect his five Welsh cobs and four Shetland ponies from winter weather.

But the council issued an enforcement notice calling for it to be flattened because it was in breach of planning regulations, and Mr Keenleyside was told he could face a £20,000 fine if he doesn’t comply.

The 68-year-old appealed against that decision, but the Planning Inspectorate has now ruled in favour of the council.

Inspector Susan Wraith has dismissed his appeal and ordered that the structure be demolished within six months.

In her report, Mrs Wraith said she did not find the shelter to be inappropriate for green-belt land.

She concluded that it adversely affected the character and appearance of the countryside, and that its box-like design “adds to its incongruity within this rural setting”.

Her report adds: “Mr Keenleyside has drawn attention to the animal welfare considerations and the desirability of providing shelter for the horses in adverse weather conditions.

“However, there is no suggestion that the retention of this building is the only way of providing for the animals’ welfare, and I am not persuaded on the matter of need.

“This consideration is not sufficient substance to outweigh the identified harm to the character and appearance of the countryside.

“I conclude that the development is not sensitive to the open character of the surroundings, and neither does it reinforce local identity.

“In terms of its siting, design and materials, it is harmful to the appearance and character of the countryside. For these reasons, I conclude that the appeal should not succeed.”

Gazette readers backed Mr Keenleyside after we first reported the row back in February 2012, with more than 3,400 supporting him in an online poll.

He said at the time: “All I wanted was to provide some shelter for my horses, who had a terrible time in the snow last winter.

“I understand that some other people in South Tyneside have put in for stables and field shelters and have been turned down because of green belt policies.

“So, on behalf of myself and all the other horse owners in the borough, I ask the council to show some care and understanding for these animals and allow people to build shelters when it doesn’t cause a problem to anyone.”

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