Horses can continue to enjoy life on a field near Axminster.

Their owner, Ann Barrett, has been using land at Parricks Lane, Hawkchurch, for ‘private equestrian use’, with an enclosure for training and buildings for a feed store, hay barn and shelters.

Now, East Devon District Council’s planning committee has given retrospective permission for the changed use of the agricultural land.

Officers said it would benefit the rural economy, although some neighbours objected.

Fay Fuller told the committee: “Agricultural land is only used a few times a year, but three horses are kept here 24/7 and the noise is continuous, with gates opening and closing, and quad bikes being used throughout the day.

“Being a horse owner myself, I am aware of what is needed to care for horses, and I do not understand why there is so much daily activity. This has had a huge detrimental impact due to noise, smell and loss of privacy.

“At times we have not been able to go out into the garden.”

Members of the committee heard concerns over the drainage, the state of hedgerows and the management of waste and manure.

But Cllr Ian Barlow (Independent, Sidmouth Town) said: “I understand the neighbours’ passion, but horses in the countryside? Fences in the countryside?

“It might not be the view you thought you were getting when you bought the house, but I can’t see any reason to refuse this.

“I have been to many farms that aren’t exactly the tidiest sites, but I don’t think there is any reason to stop this.”