Villagers say nay to healing horses

Judith Edwards of the Spirit at Play equine centre in Illston on the Hill.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Judith Edwards of the Spirit at Play equine centre in Illston on the Hill.'PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

A plan to set up a “healing horses” centre near a Harborough district village has met with strong opposition from the local parish council.

The Spirit At Play organisation wants to set up its ‘equine assisted learning centre’ on a site just outside Illston on the Hill, about nine miles north of Market Harborough.

The not-for-profit organisation uses eight rescued horses to interact with people with ‘life problems’, either physical or emotional.

Volunteer project manager Judith Edwards, who lives in Fleckney, said: “What we do is help people by allowing them to interact with the horses.

“One of our main clients is Autism Outreach. We’ve had some wonderful, wonderful outcomes.”

Ms Edwards admitted: “We’ve had some fierce opposition from local people. I just want people to know that we do good work here, and we’re nothing to be scared of.”

The group’s Facebook page adds that if they don’t get planning permission they may have to close the centre and sell their horses.

Spirit At Play is asking for a change of use of land from agricultural to equine assisted learning centre, with erection of stable, tack, hay and classroom buildings, and the creation of a gravelled horse track, and hard standings.

Illston parish council chair Mr Richard Hilliar confirmed that the parish council were against the Spirit At 
Play plans.

“We’re not happy” he said. “Basically this business was suddenly put there and we didn’t have any notification at all.”

In a letter to Harborough District Council, the parish council’s objections include concerns over the change of use of the site, concerns over the quality of buildings to be erected and concerns about access to the site.

The plan will be discussed by district council planners on Tuesday, October 6.