Thank you all for your patience as we finally begin the urgent renovation work at Coombe Park, including our indoor riding arena, near Littlehemptson.
After years of patching up the decades old, metal framed building, we knew we had to make sure we got it right…not just for the next 10 years, but the next 25 years.
And, once we started conducting surveys and calling in the experts, it quickly became apparent fixing the leaking roof and putting down a new surface in the arena was just the tip of the iceberg.
As we reviewed the condition of the site, investigations revealed the bank leading up to Coombe Park was showing the early signs of subsidence – which will affect the American Barn, home to several of our rescued ponies, longer–term.
Our estimated renovation costs began to soar, and it’s taken a team of people, with our Trustees blessing, to ensure the investment will benefit everyone in our community – ponies and people.
And before construction could begin, we had a lot of hoops to jump through, from numerous surveys to a lengthy tendering process, environmental impact studies to detailed plans for the relocation of power lines.
Now the work is finally underway. Plymouth construction firm Ryearch Ltd has brought in tons of machinery and truckloads of material – turning Coombe Park’s top car park into a building yard.
Phase One involves the dismantling of the American Barn and the shoring up of the bank – which will involve the removal of tons of earth.
Electrical cables and junctions will be removed, sheds and storage areas cleared, new drainage installed and the path alongside the arena will be narrowed.
It’s going to be dirty and disruptive in the short term – but in the long-term it will transform the tired looking Coombe Park into a vital training and rehabilitation centre for our rescued horses and ponies, and a valued multi-use centre for our education and therapy work.
Coombe Park will also become a venue for the wider equestrian community to engage with our charity, as well as open days and fundraising events. We look forward to updating you more about this in the future.
In the end, the Sanctuary will have an arena to be proud of with a new roof, more natural light, a modern, versatile surface, effective drainage and improved access for two – and four legs.
And, the impact this renovation will have on the rehabilitation and rehoming of our rescued horses and ponies cannot be underestimated.
We will be able to train our horses and ponies in all weathers, in a well-lit space with a safe, dry and durable surface.
It will enhance our education and therapy programmes as we offer our help and hearts to the most disadvantaged members of our community. We have seen their lives transformed by the beauty of Coombe Park and our gentle, forgiving and accepting horses and ponies.
But for now, for a scheduled 22 weeks, Coombe Park will be a building site – as well as a working yard.
Sanctuary Head of Estates, Daren Baines, said: “Safety has been the most important factor while planning these works, as we try to minimise disruption to the ponies, keep everyone safe and get the work done.”
Phase Two will see work begin on the arena, including the removal of the existing surface and the roof.
Daren added: “With a project of this size there is an awful lot to do before the work can begin. From the logistics of what to do with our ponies to making sure our work won’t impact on the local bat population. It was a real puzzle. It’s been a lengthy process, but it will all be worth it when we open the doors to our brilliant new arena.”