A HUGE plan to expand Craven College’s equestrian facility has been given the go-ahead by the district’s planning committee.

The application was hailed a good opportunity for the town to capitalise on the equestrian industry and was thought would help bring more people to the district.

The building which will house stables, an arena, exercise yard and car parking area will be build on a spur of land near the Leeds-Liverpool Canal to the south of Skipton Auction Mart.

The new building, which will be near an existing barn, will measure 75 metres by 64.5 metres and will be 11.5 metres to the apex.

The floor level of the new build would be at the level of the eaves on the existing barn.

Three representations, one supporting the plans, were received from 37 neighbouring properties from the other side of the canal. The two others had concerns over height and noise generation.

Speaking at Craven District Council’s planning meeting on Monday, Craven College principal Andrew Cropley said the centre would ‘greatly enhance the students’ equine experience, would grow student numbers, attract funding leading to new jobs and partnerships’.

He said the centre would hold showjumping events, competitions and pony club events. He said they were working with Skipton Bid, Craven District Council and Craven Cattle Marts to see how best to use the site.

“The plans are critical to the strategic plans of the college and are coherent with the emerging Local Plan,” he said.

Planning officer Mark Moore said it had been a close call when recommending approval because of the size of the development but was happy that landscaping would soften the appearance. He said the developers would build the site with quality materials.

The college said the site would be in use from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.

Councillor Carl Lis said he was happy to support the application.

“The centre is nationally recognised as a centre of excellence. It is a great credit to Skipton that we have these facilities.

“Let Craven College expand and continue the work they are doing. I am really pleased they are looking at this kind of investment. They are an amazingly forward-looking place. Let them carry on.”

Planning committee chairman Cllr Alan Sutcliffe added: “It will be of benefit to the equine offering in Skipton and will bring in interest and revenue from further afield.

However, councillors Paul Whitaker and Brian Shuttleworth expressed concerns over the amenity to the area through the eventual height of the building.

Cllr Whitaker said: “The view from the canal will be greatly spoilt, and I wouldn’t want to see it being used for hanging banners.”

Cllr Shuttleworth added: “It is nice rolling landscape that is going to be totally destroyed by what will look like a vast agricultural building.”

Conditions attached to approval include no advertising banners, confirmation of the hours of use and details of noise levels.