Councillors will consider whether an area of green belt in Bushey can be developed into an equestrian centre.

The centre, which will be considered today, would include a number of stables and an indoor arena, as well as overnight accommodation for a staff member.

Outside, there would be areas for show jumping and dressage training, as well as external horse walkers.

At an earlier meeting of Hertsmere Borough Council's planning committee, councillors signalled they thought the development at Caldecote Farm, on Caldecote Lane should be allowed to go ahead.

But that decision went against the advice of the council’s planning officers. On Thursday, it will be considered again by the council’s planning referrals committee.

Planning officers say the proposal would be an inappropriate development in the green belt that would harm the setting of Grade II listed Caldecote Towers.

They also say the plans do not include plans for the disposal of sewage or provision for the disposal of surface water within the site.

But councillors backed the proposals at a meeting of the planning committee in April – by five votes to three, with two abstentions.

They pointed to the potential of the equestrian development to create jobs, to provide outdoor sports facilities otherwise not readily available, and the diversification of the economy.

They also highlighted benefits to local, regional and national equestrian users and facilities for disabled people.

They said these factors constituted the ‘very special circumstances’ that would allow development of the green belt.

Countering these “purported” benefits in a further report prepared for Thursday’s planning referrals committee, planning officers say the centre would result in just 11 full time jobs.

With an indoor arena as the ‘main feature’, officers also said it is “debatable” whether it could be regarded as outdoor facilities.

They say it is not true there are no other such facilities in the area – pointing to five equestrian centres within a 35 minute drive.

They added the 35-minute catchment area used by the applicant’s consultants suggests it is intended mainly for local use.

In addition, the report says the applicants have revised down the anticipated annual number of users from 4250 to 2768.

As part of the initial consultation process, the council received 29 objections and 151 letters of support – of which 122 were received from residents living outside the borough. Since the initial hearing in April, the report says the council has received a further 23 letters of support.

If the planning referrals committee back the application, it will have to be referred to the Secretary of State before an approval can be issued because of the size of the development in the green belt.