Sidmouth horse stud future in limbo

A COUPLE who want to turn their recently opened warmblood stud into the best in the country, could be thwarted by planning officers.

A COUPLE who want to turn their recently opened warmblood stud into the best in the country, could be thwarted by planning officers.

Dr Peter and Silva Bedding, who opened Constancia Stud in August on nearly 60 acres at Dunscombe Farm, near Sidmouth, have been waiting four months for a decision on whether they can erect a log cabin to live on site, hidden behind hedges.

Peter, 71, a renowned professional in equine nutrition and wife Silva, 55, have now heard East Devon District Council is considering refusing their application to build accommodation on site so they can attend foaling mares and ensure horses, including Olympic stallion Relevant - ranked the world's top dressage breeding stallion - are secure.

Currently Silva, a professional warmblood breeder in Sweden for 30 years, is having to camp in a barn on site to keep a round-the-clock eye on their 26 horses and foals.

Silva, who came to England 15 years ago, said: "I am a bit in despair. This is not just a pony stud. People are paying a lot of money for us to look after their horses.

"We are asking for a mobile home, not a caravan, for three years, not a 14-bedroom mansion with a sea view.

Most Read

The couple moved from a much smaller stud near Southampton and were thrilled to find Dunscombe Farm to enable them to expand their business and take in horses for recuperation as well as mares for breeding.

"We knew there was no provision for accommodation, however the provision for the horses was excellent, which was of prime importance," said Dr Bedding.

He said originally both planners at EDDC and Defra appeared to be in favour of their application.

However, the Beddings believe an agricultural assessor's report to the council, questioning the viability of the business, has led to a change of heart.

"Defra said it was important to be here 24/7 because of the welfare of animals. There didn't seem to be a problem," said Dr Bedding.

The couple say they cannot produce a three-year business plan because expansion plans are threatened if they cannot have on-site accommodation. They have, this week, sent more evidence substantiating their argument for temporary accommodation to EDDC.

A spokeswoman for EDDC said: "We can confirm the decision on the application will be taken under delegated powers and, as such, our senior planning officer has indicated to Mr and Mrs Bedding that the council is minded to refuse their application.

"The council has taken advice from an external consultant regarding the financial viability and functional need for a new dwelling in the countryside, based on information supplied by the applicant.

"The final decision on the application will be made taking into account the results of the tests carried out by the consultant."

She said EDDC considered the keeping of horses to be a countryside activity and the fact horses are not classified as an agricultural animal was irrelevant.