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Equine and agricultural specialist Catherine Whittles of Staffordshire law firm Bowcock & Pursaill answers your most common questions.

Do I need planning permission?

Yes you may do, as equine and agriculture fall into different use classes. This also applies to any buildings you erect for stables or any ménage you construct.

Can I get a grant?

There are development grants available in some areas to help farm owners diversify which we can advise on.

Do I have to be licensed?

No, however it can help if your yard is approved by the British Horse Society which proves you meet certain standards.

Should I run the livery separate from the farm business?

Most farms are VAT registered but not all livery yards are. Decide what you will offer, whether it’s full livery which includes care of the horses, or DIY where you just provide grazing or stables. For some people running the yard through the farm business is better, so taking advice is important as it affects other taxes.

Will I have to pay business rates?

It may affect your rates as agricultural land and buildings are exempt. You may have to pay business rates on the livery portion of the property.

Will I have to change my insurance cover?

Horse owners should have their own insurance, but you will need public liability insurance in case, for example, a horse escapes from your field and it is proved to be your fault.

What about health and safety?

Obviously you are subject to health and safety legislation and we can help draw up a livery contract which covers any rules relating to your yard, such as where people have access so they don’t create biosecurity problems for example. It is very important to have a detailed livery contract for each horse.

What else should I think about?

There can be inheritance tax issues around agricultural property relief, as a livery yard can only attract business property relief so do take financial advice and this may be harder to claim. Also be aware that other costs, for example your water and electricity usage will increase.

For further advice, call the Bowcock & Pursaill agricultural team on 01538 399 199 or 01782 200 000

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