We've recently had a series of enquiries as to whether planning permission is required for keeping horses on land. As a result we thought it might be useful to provide a summary of when planning permission will be required.
The starting point is to remember that the use of land for agricultural purposes (as defined in s366 TCPA 1990) does not constitute development within the meaning of the TCPA so does not normally require planning permission.
When will keeping a horse be considered to be an agricultural use? Certainly not always. The only time you can definitively say that the keeping of a horse is agricultural is when land is used for the grazing of a horse or when a working horse is kept and/or bred on the land.
Keeping and breeding racehorses or "recreational horses" on land will not fall within the definition of 'agriculture' so planning permission is needed, although, if your race or recreational horse is on agricultural land solely for the purpose of grazing then this will be an agricultural use. Care must be taken here - the horse must only be on the land for the primary purpose of grazing. If the horse is kept on the land and fed by another food source, then the land is not being used for the primary purpose of grazing and planning permission will be required.
Incidentally, if you decide to keep your horse within the curtilage of your house, whilst this won't be an agricultural use, it could be considered incidental to the enjoyment of your dwelling house and therefore not require planning permission, or benefit from permitted development rights.
Also bear in mind that you might need planning permission for the erection of structures to accompany your horses .