AN OLYMPIC gold medal-winning showjumper has overcome a planning hurdle in his bid to establish a new equestrian complex in the Borders.

Peebles-born Scott Brash MBE landed gold as part of the GB Team at the 2012 Summer Olympics and three years later became the first rider to win showjumping’s Rolex Grand Slam, scooping £735,000 in the process.

He regularly competes on the Longines Global Champion Tour and the equestrian facilities that support his activities are based at a farm in West Sussex and at Castlehill Farm in Peebles, a venue which accommodates retired elite horses now used for breeding purposes and where he employs three staff. 

In 2019 Scott, in conjunction with his owners, began a breeding programme with the ultimate aim of producing world class horses from proven mares and stallions that might one day compete at the sport’s most prestigious events.

Once the mares have foaled, they and their foals are brought to Castlehill Farm, where they are weaned for seven months.

The breeding programme has so far produced 11 horses, all of which are at Castlehill Farm with the intention of producing up to a further 10 each year moving forward.

But the Peebles farm does not have capacity to meet the growing numbers and he submitted an application to Scottish Borders Council to change the use of agricultural land north of Glenormiston Farm near Innerleithen to build both a new equestrian complex and a house for staff, which would also operate as a base for Scott when he is in Scotland.

The application was this week recommended for approval by the council’s lead planning officer Carlos Clarke, who said: “No trees are directly affected and substantial tree cover contains the site in any case. The agent advises the use of the land will not necessitate features such as jumps etc.

“The proposal would not directly affect public rights of way and the use of the land for equestrian purposes will not alter public access rights.”

A supporting statement with the application, submitted by Scott’s agent, Edinburgh-based Derek Scott Planning, said: “Castlehill Farm has played an important role in Scott’s emerging horse breeding programme but unfortunately does not have the capacity to accommodate the forecast stock numbers coming through that programme in the years ahead.

“The farm presently accommodates 23 horses but will be operating beyond its capacity following the arrival of nine new foals in 2023.

“As a consequence of this and to facilitate the ongoing breeding programme there is a need to create a further equestrian facility.

“The applications submitted seeks permission to change the use of land from agricultural to equestrian and for the erection of an equestrian building and planning permission in principle for the erection of a dwellinghouse on family-owned land at Glenormiston Farm, near Innerleithen.”