Teesdale couple's dream of £15m Olympic equestrian centre clears planning hurdle (From The Northern Echo)
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Teesdale couple's dream of £15m Olympic equestrian centre clears planning hurdle
PLANS to build a £15m Olympic-standard equestrian centre in the North-East have cleared a major hurdle, with councillors giving their backing to the ambitious project.
Horse-loving couple Lou and Barbara Elliot want to build a world-class facility capable of hosting national and international events in rural County Durham, at their 150-acre Hilton Moor Farm, near Evenwood Gate.
The complex would feature a large indoor arena plus a secondary warm-up area and collection ring and four outdoor arenas, including a 900-seater grandstand, as well as a 240-seat restaurant and equestrian store.
There would also be stables for 18 horses, a judge’s viewing tower and parking for 174 cars, 400 horsebox vans and 80 cars with horse boxes.
The Elliots hope the centre would become a training base for the Rio 2016 Olympics, as well as hosting 12 major four-day events, up to 30 weekend meetings and numerous single-day competitions every year.
Up to 80 jobs could be created, bringing a major boost for Teesdale’s rural economy.
Today (Tuesday, December 3), Durham County Council’s county planning committee overwhelming voted to grant planning permission.
Councillor George Richardson said it was not an appropriate use of the countryside, bemoaned the loss of farmland and said the complex would be “not sustainable, if it happens at all”.
However, Coun Paul Taylor said the plans were exciting and Coun Carl Marshall urged his colleagues to give the Elliots a chance.
Imitating civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Bernard Nixon, of Darlington-based Anderson Ellis Architecture – who spoke for the Elliots, said they “have a dream” to create a modern equestrian centre, had spent hours looking at every fine detail and the plans represented a great opportunity to provide an Olympic-sized facility and attract visitors from across the county and abroad.
After the vote, Mr Elliot said: “We’re extremely pleased.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve had to walk on water but we’ve had to make a lot of compromises. But we’re happy with the plans we’ve got.”
The Elliots have two horse-loving daughters who have been national champions in their sport and they have been working on the plans for at least six years.
Planning permission was initially granted in 2008, but funding later fell through.
Mr Elliot now hopes work could finally begin on site in February or March.
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