Green light to convert Melsonby racehorse complex following death of trainer

Developers have been given the go-ahead to create a centre for light industrial or distribution businesses in open countryside to help offset the loss to the rural economy following the closure of a racing stables.

The changes at Western House Stables, Melsonby, near Richmond, come two years after the racing community was left in shock following the unexpected death of top dual-purpose trainer Alan Swinbank.

The 72-year-old had made his mark on the Flat and over jumps during a training career that garnered nearly 800 domestic winners.

He also enjoyed notable success internationally thanks to the exploits of Collier Hill, who won 15 races in eight countries including at the highest level in the Irish St Leger, Canadian International and Hong Kong Vase.

Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee was told the complex had been the base for a “highly successful racehorse enterprise that employed a number of people which made a positive contribution to the local rural economy”.

The stabling had the capacity to house 112 horses, and the business had an established breeding programme and 25 full-time employees and a manager.

Councillors heard initial marketing had indicated a strong demand for commercial units on the site from businesses seeking a rural location and easy access to the A1(M).

The meeting heard the complex of buildings had been vacant since the stables closed and the proposals provided for sustainable economic development that would create jobs, without significant adverse impact on the local transport system and the amenities and privacy of neighbours.

Officers stated: “The proposals would have no significant adverse impact on the character and quality of the local landscape.”

The authority’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale described the scheme as “absolutely 100 per cent marvellous”.

She said: “It fits into our revised economic strategy for Richmondshire.”

Ward councillor Jimmy Wilson-Petch added: “It’s a crying shame as it was a wonderful racing establishment, but the owner died and no one seemed to be able to get it going again. It will be a smashing place for small businesses.”