Charity stables that crowdfunded £1millionto survive loses home after ’landlord raises price’

·3-min read
 (Park Lane Stables)
(Park Lane Stables)

A charity riding school which crowdfunded more than £1million to buy its stables when it was threatened with eviction said it will be forced to leave its home next week after the owner increased the asking price for the site.

Earlier this year Park Lane Stables in Teddington started a fundraising campaign when the landlord told them he was selling up and the charity would not be able to stay after the lease ran out on May 31.

The charity helps disabled children and the disadvantaged learn to ride with a pay what you can system and councils from across the capital refer young people and adults there for respite.

The stables raised £1.3million and gained support from actor Rob Brydon, impressionist Rory Bremner and TV presenter Nick Luck. The campaign even attracted the attention of the Queen, who invited some of the riders to view the Royal Mews stables at Buckingham Palace.

However manager Natalie O’Rourke said that the landlord has claimed he has received an offer of £1.35million for the site and the stables can only stay if it is matched.

Park Lane Stables ran the “tiny pony at your window” initiative during lockdown to help combat loneliness (Park Lane Stables)
Park Lane Stables ran the “tiny pony at your window” initiative during lockdown to help combat loneliness (Park Lane Stables)

She added that after three independent evaluations, the land had been valued at about £840,000 and under Charity Commission rules they are not allowed to overpay for an asset. It means the school has “no choice” but to leave.

From June 1 it will temporarily run from Manor Farm Stables in Richmond until it can find a new site.

A spokesman for the charity trustees said: “Our first concern is for the Park Lane Stables family and our horses. Thanks to the astonishing support of the public we now have the means to secure the charity’s future and are now looking at alternative locations within the borough, to ensure we can maintain our RDA activities, keep accessibility easy for all our riders, and allow us to retain our colleagues and volunteers.

"We are confident we can do this but sad we have to leave our current home, which looks set to signal the end of at least 200 years of horses in central Teddington.”

Chief Executive of the Riding for the Disabled Association Ed Bracher added: “The priority here is to ensure that the disabled children and adults who benefit from Park Lane RDA’s activities can continue to do so.

“It is sad that the charity cannot remain at the original site, but we support their work to make sure they can secure an alternative venue from which to operate.

"This will ensure that they can continue to be a thriving and important local asset”.

The site, which is home to 23 horses, has a long equestrian history and was a fire station with horse-drawn engines from the early 1800s and has also served as a dairy.

Natalie O’Rourke started a fundraising campaign (Park Lane Stables)
Natalie O’Rourke started a fundraising campaign (Park Lane Stables)

It was reopened 12 years ago as a riding school and charity by Ms O’Rourke after the foot and mouth crisis closed the previous stables in 2008.

During lockdown it made headlines after cheering up local residents with a "tiny pony at your window" campaign.

A spokesman for the landlord said: “We are acutely aware of the importance of the service provided by Park Lane Stables and the benefit of that work to the community.

“While we regret the personal circumstances that have forced us to seek new ownership for the stables, we will continue to work to seek an acceptable resolution for all parties involved, and remain committed to supporting the continued services on site whilst the situation is ongoing.”

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