Campaigners could be granted a three-month window to raise the funds to purchase the site of a once “thriving” equestrian centre in Ickleford.

The ten-acre site, which is owned by Hertfordshire County Council and includes a grade II-listed 16th century farmhouse and stables, is part of Lower Green Farm.

It was previously home to the Ickleford Equestrian Centre, which included facilities for disabled riders, and has been left without tenant since 2023.

The county council has drawn-up plans to sell off the ten acres of the site around the farmhouse, while continuing to lease the remaining farmland.

But those plans are opposed by hundreds of Hertfordshire residents who have signed a petition in a bid to ensure the equestrian facility can be reinstated.

The ultimate decision on whether to sell off the site will be taken by a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Monday, February 12.

But on Thursday, February 8, the council’s resources and performance cabinet panel came up with an option that could give campaigners some breathing space.


Although councillors agreed marketing of the site should go ahead immediately, they suggested that no sale should go ahead for three months. Their recommendation will now be presented to the meeting of the council’s cabinet for further consideration.

If agreed by the cabinet, it could give campaigners from the Save Lower Green Farm group the “breathing space” to fund the purchase themselves.

But it was stressed that the site would be sold through an open market process.

At the meeting councillors were told that the grade II-listed farmhouse was “in relatively poor condition”, and there were suggestions that if the sale was delayed the council could face repair costs of around £880k.

Outlining the proposal to sell, director of property Sass Pledger said that the plan was to re-let 110 acres of the Lower Green Farm site – but to dispose of ten.

Those ten acres would include the grade II-listed farmhouse and barns, as well as the stables.

She said the farmhouse building was expensive to maintain and challenging to adapt, requiring substantial work.

While Ms Pledger highlighted the site's previous use as an equestrian facility, she added there were 14 other Riding for the Disabled facilities within a 20-mile radius.

Presenting a 513-signature petition to the meeting, Frances Barry from Save Lower Green Farm pointed to the farm’s value to the community.

She had asked councillors to reconsider in the ‘public interest’ – pointing to the needs of local people, the disabled community and future generations.

Ms Barry highlighted the community, social, cultural, sporting, educational, business environmental, heritage, physical, therapeutic, mental health and wellbeing benefits.

And she suggested that “connecting communities with animals has a wellbeing value that far exceeds a price tag”.

She also suggested that the council’s plan to segment the 120-acre site could ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ – suggesting that the viability of the rural business relied on it remaining as a whole.

Local Conservative county councillor David Barnard acknowledged that the county council – and councils up and down the country – were “pretty cash-strapped” and that they needed to liquefy assets when appropriate.

But he stressed that the the farm had been a very valuable commodity to the community.

And he had suggested that as a caring council and a council that puts communities first, they should give the community group the opportunity to raise the funds.

The meeting also heard that Save Lower Green Farm had been unsuccessful in its application to register the site as an Asset of Community Value.