Plans to change the landscape to create an equestrian cross country training area in Bushey have been backed by county councillors.
The facility will be part of a new equestrian centre at Caldecote Farm, in Caldecote Lane, that was given the go-ahead by Hertsmere Borough Council in August.
Those existing plans already included provision of outside areas for show jumping and dressage training and an indoor arena, as well as stables, veterinary accommodation and a lecture room.
And on Wednesday (November 27) further plans for a cross country training area on the site were given the go-ahead by Hertfordshire County Council.
However their decision will need to be referred to the Secretary of State before formal permission is granted, because the site sits within the Metropolitan Green Belt.
Included in the proposals are plans for cross country training areas for beginners, intermediate and more advanced riders.
And the currently flat landscape will be altered though the importation of inert waste – increasing the height by up to 4m in some parts.
There will also be a raised platform on the site for show jumping and dressage training.
At the meeting of the county council’s development management committee on Wednesday, councillors heard around 56,000 tonnes of ‘inert material’, such as builders’ rubble, would be required to reshape the landscape.
That material would be brought to the site by lorries, with up to 70 ‘lorry movements’ – 35 in and 35 out – allowed on weekdays and 40 on Saturdays during the 38-week construction period.
And the process, it was reported, would also improve the drainage and the quality of the ground, which can currently be waterlogged.
Planning officer Sharon Threlfall highlighted issues that included the site’s position in the Metropolitan Green Belt, the impact on a Grade II-listed building, highways, lorry movements, the impact of the construction and the presence of a high pressure gas pipeline.
On balance, she said, the benefits of the scheme – which will be subject to 30 planning conditions – would outweigh the harm to the Green Belt.
And she said that during the construction period the M1 was still likely to be the dominant noise feature in the area.
At the meeting Cllr Stephen Boulton asked if there was a way the county council could control the nature of the ‘inert’ material used – to ensure it was free of materials such as timber and asbestos.
Mrs Threlfell said this was the function of the Environment Agency and not a role that the county council could duplicate.
However she said the council could ask the agency to inspect the nature of the waste that was imported.
A number of responses – from residents living within 250m of the site – were received by the council as part of its consultation.
Among the concerns was that the development would be inappropriate in the Green Belt and that there was no need to change the contours of the land.
There were also concerns about the impact of floodlights on ecology, the risk of contaminated materials, the impact of traffic, including mud on the roads and congestion, and an increase in horse ‘droppings’ on local roads.
Some raised concerns that permission would be given for the importation of inert material – but that the equestrian centre would not be built.
However officers confirmed to the committee that work on the centre had already begun.
A previous equestrian centre that had operated close-by has since closed and houses are being built on the site.