Top tips for building your dream arena

So, you have decided that you would like to build an arena, but you are unsure of the common pitfalls that can stop you in your tracks. Here are a few tips that can guide you through before taking the plunge.

Planning permission

All new arenas will require planning approval even if the site can’t be seen by neighbouring properties or from the public highway. If buildings need to be removed to erect the new arena it is important that you do not take these buildings down in advance of submitting a planning application as this may significantly reduce your chances of obtaining approval. An application for planning approval will need to be prepared, submitted and approved before you begin any work on site.


If building a riding arena will be part of a bigger project, consider the whole layout first. Typically, authorities are not keen on facilities to sprawl over a large area. Putting it nearer existing facilities will make it easier to secure the correct support.

While hedgerows and trees can provide shelter from prevailing wind, most installers advise staying clear because of the problems created by falling leaves and roots — while planners also object to the impact on mature trees.

Soil conditions can also be a consideration. An arena can be built on almost any ground, but if there are difficult conditions — for example if it’s rocky or boggy — then it is going to need more investment in either equipment or materials, so if there is an alternative position, consider it.


The base is one of the most important aspect of an arena build. If it isn’t constructed properly, the arena surface will never perform as intended and pooling water and soft spots will result. Hard limestone or granite is the best stone for the drainage network.  The stone must be as hard as possible, and it needs to be evenly compacted.


For most people, the primary factors influencing surface choice are budget and the level and type of use.

If you want to get a feel for the type of ride you are looking for and what would best suit the requirements of your discipline, try to see a surface in work rather than just viewing samples. Most people installing an outdoor arena opt for a sand-based surface.

Sand used for arenas is silica sand, which is natural but more durable than most. Among the latest products are those that mimic the binding ability of topsoil to improve the surface quality and minimise kickback. Horses can travel on top of this type of surface rather than moving through it. It is best for galloping. Horses can travel on top of this type of surface rather than moving through it. Many all-weather racetracks are sand-based.

Equestrian Planning Services are expert at obtaining planning approval for all things equestrian. Our staff are on hand to provide no obligation advice on your projects, we can tell you whether planning permission is needed and how best to achieve a positive result. Get in touch with one of our planning team today for more information.