Northumberland visitor attraction seeks permission for improvements carried out during lockdown

A north Northumberland visitor attraction has submitted a retrospective planning application for works carried out during lockdown.

Monday, 1st November 2021, 1:37 pm

The Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre, on Ford and Etal Estates, carried out improvement works to the café, shop and office space in late 2020 and early 2021.

Centre managers Derek and Viv Cockburn believed the alterations were permitted development only for a third party to inform Northumberland County Council. A planning enforcement officer subsequently informed them that planning consent was needed.

They are now seeking permission for the placing of two portable cabins at the side of the existing implement shed which faces onto the courtyard within the existing farm buildings.

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre.

A change of use permission is also required for the implement shed to be converted into a café and craft workshop to demonstrate saddlery skills.

A planning report on the applicants’ behalf states: ‘The Cockburn family have been running a centre for the breeding and showing of Clydesdale and other heavy horses for several years now.

‘The enterprise was run as a working farm with displays of antique farm and heavy horse equipment as well as interpretation and education features to help visitors understand the importance of heavy horses in the history of agriculture in Northumberland.

‘The work grew and not only did the Cockburns breed Clydesdales but they became involved in the breeding of rare pigs (British Lop) to keep stock levels up.

‘A portable cabin was purchased to provide an office base and a small retail area was included in the centre to allow the sale of pork form the rare breed pigs and other items.

‘The first few years were difficult but with support from the Ford & Etal Estate the business grew and attracted not just casual visitors but school parties.

‘As the numbers increased it was decided to sell hot and cold drinks as the centre is some distance from the café and pub in Etal, and visitors were looking for a picnic area to consume packed lunches.

‘Lockdown was particularly difficult, in common with many tourist attractions, but the provision of financial support in the form of grants allowed the family to buy an additional portable cabin and during the last lockdown they took the decision to improve the café, shop and office facilities.’

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