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Horse riding arena plans emerge for St james City Farm

By citizenmike  |  Posted: December 28, 2013

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Fresh plans for a horse riding arena at St James City Farm have emerged.

City councillors are set to decide the fate of the plans when they go before the Gloucester City Council planning committee next month.

The design of a previous plan has been tweaked ahead of the submission to the council.

Imran Atcha, co-ordinator of The Friendship Café, the charity that runs the Tredworth-based farm, said: “The project is an extension of the work the farm already carries out, teaching children and young people about animal care but the new riding arena will focus specifically on teaching all about horses, including riding and caring for them.”

The Friendship Café has been arranging riding lessons for children and young people on a small scale since 2010, backed by sponsorship through Britain’s former Olympic medallist rider Emile Faurie, but considerable interest means that there is a long waiting list from children across the city.

“This new arena will mean many more children can be taught throughout the year, as well as volunteering opportunities that can help city children look into horses as a career or leisure pursuit”, said Mr Atcha. “We have looked into similar set-ups such as Brixton’s Ebony Riding School which is proving to be a great success.”

Organisers say that the scheme has the backing of many parents and children who find riding lessons otherwise unaffordable, as well as key players in the county’s equestrian establishments such as Cheltenham Racecourse and Hartpury College.

It also has the backing of Gloucestershire County Council who are supporting it with a £16k grant.

The British Horse Society is advising the organisation on the practicalities of establishing the £60,000 project which will be the first of its kind in the South West.

City councillor Usman Bhaimia (L, Barton and Tredworth) considers it a worthwhile project to add to St James City Farm.

He said: “It is great for the area and great for our people. I know my own son is interested in horse riding lessons there. It is nice to see the project materialising after a long time in the making.”

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