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International showjumper Megan Broadway 'devastated' by order to tear down riding area in Pitmore Lane, Sway

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AN international showjumper said she was “devastated” at having to tear down an arena she built without planning permission in the New Forest to boost her dreams of competing at the highest level.

Megan Broadway said she had been “overwhelmed” by support since the A&T revealed her retrospective application to develop Eastwoods in Pitmore Lane, Sway, had failed.

It was turned down by the national park authority and then thrown out on appeal by government planning inspector Stephen Hawkins who criticised it as an “alien feature” in the landscape.

Megan in action
Megan in action

He has given her nine months to remove the sand manège, horse-walker, earthworks and sections of track, paths and parking areas.

The inspector also refused an application to build a riding arena, with horse-walker, landscaping, alterations to stables and barn and rainwater storage tanks.

Responding to the ruling for the first time, Megan’s family said they were “obviously devastated”.

They added: “We have accepted what has been ruled, but have been overwhelmed by the comments, contacts, emails and voices of support from so many locally. It’s been quite humbling.”

Her mother, Jo, added: “The family are not sure there are any options open to them now, and have just nine months to return the site to a grass field, losing all facilities to exercise Megan’s team of horses.

“Megan still remains positive, and is grateful for the opportunities she’s been able to take advantage of during her two years, and possibly nine more months, at Eastwoods.”

They said Megan was “looking forward” to meeting with planning officers to discuss any options, adding: “Her wish remains to work in the local area, within an industry inspired by the very surroundings she grew up in.”

Megan said: “Anyone with horses knows it’s a 365-day-a-year job, and having my family around me for support is essential.”

Her planning documents said she bought the site in 2020 as a home to “continue the longstanding personal equestrian use of the land and its facilities”.

The yard before
The yard before
The yard now
The yard now

She had argued “unique personal circumstances” meant that granting permission “would not set a precedent for future inappropriate developments within the national park”.

However, the planning inspector said the 50-metre by 60-metre manège gave an

“assertive, man-made and formalised appearance”, resulting in it “appearing as an obvious and alien feature in its surroundings”.

The works had “significantly and appreciably eroded the largely unspoilt, pastoral visual qualities of their surroundings”, he said.

Sway Parish Council had supported the work on the land, which overall comprises 38 acres.

The application said it had been sold “to a local family with a love for the forest and a dream to re-instate the equestrian use that has run throughout the history of Eastwoods”.

Megan began riding at nine years old, learning to ride on the open Forest and, progressing through Pony Club, found her passion for showjumping.

In 2020, at 18 years old, she jumped her first international 2*, 1.45M Grand Prix in Spain, on her horse Exclusive X. Her dream is one day to represent team GB at Nations Cup level or above.

This week, for the first time in over two years, she has been competing internationally at a 3* show in Vilamoura, Portugal, alongside her trainers John and Laura Renwick.

Her family said the past two years have been tough for international showjumping, given the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit fallout and an outbreak of equine herpes.

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