Walkers told to use common sense rather than underpass to cross Middleham gallops

Manor House Farm.

A major redevelopment of a leading Middleham racing stable appears to have overcome a hurdle after councillors called on walkers of a popular footpath that crosses a new gallops to use common sense.

Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee chair Councillor John Amsden used his casting vote to reject North Yorkshire County Council’s advice to build an underpass outside Middleham for the Six Dales Trail, to avoid conflict with horses training from Manor House Farm.

County council rights of way officers had warned the proposed gallops near Canaan’s Lane as part of John and Jess Dance’s scheme would create a significant hazard.

However, Middleham Town Council said opinions in the town were unanimous in rejection of the underpass, describing it as inappropriate in the landscape and out of all proportion to the potential danger of crossing an all-weather track.

Ahead of councillors rejecting calls for the underpass and effectively giving final approval to the Dance’s redevelopment plans, the meeting heard the main gallop at Middleham Moor crossed a footpath, and despite there being no underpass there had never been an incident.

After the meeting, Coun Amsden said: “The underpass would have been a bit of an eyesore and I couldn’t see how it would be of benefit to anybody.

“Racehorses are highly strung animals and all you need is somebody shouting in the underpass and these horses will go berserk. Whereas you can keep people back from the gallop by putting in split rails further back and warning signs.

“In practise it is basically the Country Code and a bit of common sense. Be aware that there are going to be horses galloping, but they aren’t going to be galloping all day. People often go for walks in fields with cows and sheep and use their common sense.”