French Planning Applications: Riding Schools and Equestrian Centres


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French Planning Applications: Riding Schools and Equestrian Centres

Setting up an equestrian centre in France may not be as simple as one would think. The activity itself is relevant to planning consent as it may be considered as a leisure activity, but could also be considered as either agricultural or professional. Different regulations apply to each, and to complicate matters, there are regional variations and interpretations, which could mean that the definition of a project applied in one area may be different to the same project in another area. People with horses kept just for pleasure would not be considered as any kind of professional activity, but the construction of any stables would still be subject to planning consent.

Equestrian Yards: When Do You Need Planning Permission?

There are various structures and works that may be untaken on an equestrian property, and many (but not all) will be subject to planning permission. Let’s look at the main possibilities

Field shelters

Generally speaking, no permissions are required for simple field shelters as they are not permanent and are open-sided. Fully enclosed shelters fall into a different planning bracket, so may require consent.


As a permanent structure, the construction of any stable will require planning consent. It is more likely that equestrian properties will be in rural areas rather than urban ones, meaning the land is most likely to be zoned as agricultural. In agricultural areas, planning consent for any construction which is not used for farming purposes can be difficult, so care is needed before commencing the property purchase process to be sure that the project is feasible.

It may be that no constructions are possible at all, but more likely that there would be limitations on size – perhaps 30 m² or so, which severely restricts the number of horses that could be stabled. Assuming permission is possible, the local planning office may have specific limitations on design and style, so that needs to be checked in advance too.


Using existing barns for equestrian purposes is much less likely to cause any planning issues as, by definition, barns are agricultural in nature.


Erecting stock fencing is unlikely to require planning consent, though it is a good idea to check with the local town hall in advance.

Professional Use Buildings

Using land or buildings for professional reasons where members of the public come onto the property – in this case, perhaps riding lessons, livery, etc., potentially results in the need for compliance with fire safety and disabled access regulations, which can be complex.

Obtaining relevant planning consent may cost 3,000 – 4,000 €, so build that into your financial budgeting.

Building or Renovating Your French Property?

Whether you’re building an extension, renovating an old farmhouse, or designing a new build property, FrenchEntrée is here to help! Check out our Essential Reading articles for everything you need to know about planning permissions, building regulations, and renovation projects. Or, for professional help, advice and assistance at all stages of your building or renovation project, get in touch with our partners at French Plans.

Article by Arthur Cutler at French Plans. 

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