THE Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury have been granted planning permission to set-up a stud farm in Wimborne St Giles.

On Wednesday, members of East Dorset District Council’s planning committee approved the couple’s plans to convert disused dairy farm buildings into a new centre for training dressage horses.

Purpose-built facilities will now be built at Glebe Farm on the eastern edge of the village, allowing them to relocate their breeding and training business away from the grounds of St Giles House.

A planning application was submitted to the council in September with the couple saying there were "limited opportunities" to improve its offering at its current site.

Their proposals included the construction of an “essential” new indoor and outdoor arenas which will be used to exercise and train horses before they are sold.

Due to scale of the scheme, the application was considered by councillors on Wednesday, despite no objections being submitted.

Dinah Ashley-Cooper, the Countess of Shaftesbury and a vet, said the new facilities on the eastern edge of the village would be an improvement from the stables in the grounds of St Giles House.

“It was always quite difficult to run a stud farm next to what is now a wedding venue,” she said at the meeting. “Often I was doing my vet work in a place which was very, very close to the guest house.

“These are very well-trained dressage horses which need training in proper facilities.”

The buildings at Glebe Farm in Parsonage Lane have been unused since the Shaftesbury Estate stopped dairy farming a number of years ago.

Councillors praised the work the couple had done in Wimborne St Giles, including the renovation of St Giles House, and described their plans for the stud farm as “splendid”.

“It’s good to see Wimborne St Giles coming back to life,” Cllr Derek Burt said. “This is another stage in what’s going on over there.

“Agriculture is changing and it’s going to change more in the future.

“I think this is absolutely splendid and is another phase in what’s happening in St Giles.”

Cllr Barbara Manuel praised the work the couple had done with the Cranborne Chase area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) team to produce a “well thought through” proposal.

Members of the committee voted unanimously to approve the application.