Stable plan fails to clear hurdle

Lee Simmons has converted a former joinery at the back of Clevedon Road into stables for his prom carriage business, but has come up against protests from the council.'Lee with some of the stalls (one of the council complaints was the size of the stalls).  PIC BY ROB LOCK'4-2-2011

Lee Simmons has converted a former joinery at the back of Clevedon Road into stables for his prom carriage business, but has come up against protests from the council.'Lee with some of the stalls (one of the council complaints was the size of the stalls). PIC BY ROB LOCK'4-2-2011

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A FRUSTRATED horse owner said he was “gobsmacked” at the reaction to his plans to transform a workshop into new stables.

Lee Simmons, of South Shore, submitted plans to stable two horses at the Clevedon Road site from March until September with four horses there during the Illuminations’ season.

Last week’s meeting of Blackpool Council’s development control committee ended split on the plans and a decision has now been deferred.

Mr Simmons, who owns Simmon’s Carriage Hire and offers horse-drawn carriage rides along the Promenade, said the business is his livelihood.

He told The Gazette: “When I bought these buildings a fire had completely gutted the site and I spent a fortune doing it up and making it inhabitable.

“The original papers said the only use the building could be repaired back to was as a joinery or stables so straight away I put in an application and sought advice. I was really surprised when I heard how the councillors had reacted, especially because I had used the building to stable horses last year.

“It was great last season, the kids loved coming to see the horses, they couldn’t get enough of it – I cannot understand their complaints at all.”

The site is a mixture of two and single-storey blocks making up an end terrace which form part of a small collection of industrial units and warehouse buildings.

During last week’s meeting Coun Ivan Taylor and Coun Valerie Haynes said they had strong concerns about noise, odour, waste drainage and vermin.

They also felt the building was not suitable for stabling horses and the former workshop was too close to a residential area and a school.

But Mr Simmons, 36, said he thought he had taken the necessary steps to negate any worries and couldn’t believe his plans had not been approved.

He said: “There won’t be any hay or straw on site, we have said we will use mats covered in shavings to soak up any urine which will also help with the smell.

“The animals are kept in fantastic condition, their coats are brushed and kept shiny and they are cleaned out regularly.

“The stables are bright and airy but the horses will really only be there during the evening as they will be working along the promenade in the day.

“As far as vermin goes, rats don’t live in stables, the only animals attracted to stables are mice – if there are rats in the alleyway it is because of litter not horses.

“I submitted a council approved veterinary report with my application which said the conditions were suitable for horses so I’m gobsmacked really.”

The suitability of the building for use as a stable had been verified by a vet and a Lancashire County Council land agent.

But the planning committee felt the application should be deferred pending a full fire risk assessment, a further veterinary and environmental health report.

Mr Simmons added: “The only thing I am waiting for now are no smoking signs to be put up on the walls but I would be more than happy for fire officers to visit the site and offer their opinions.

“It seems a long drawn out affair for a fairly simple application. I know other councillors were in support of the plans so hopefully once these extra reports have been submitted we will get the go ahead.”