NEW RIDING CENTRE PLANS
HorsePower Hills Continues to Search for a new Home
3 August 2021
Release issued by Lynn Fisher, Secretary, HorsePower Hills
In a shock development, HorsePower Hills is without a future home for its equine-assisted therapy programs.
HorsePower Hills had been working with Department of Communities on a project to build a new HorsePower centre on vacant land adjacent to the Kath French Secure Facility on Woodlands Road in Stoneville since 2017. A draft lease was drawn up in late 2020.
Department of Communities has withdrawn the lease opportunity.
The reason provided is that the land is now being held for potential re-development of the Facility and that the HorsePower development is too large to share the land.
HorsePower Hills President Rebekah Millard said, “We were gobsmacked with this unexpected disappointment. Since 2017 we have invested over $50,000 and hundreds of volunteer hours to prepare a suite of design and engineering documents for a centre at this site.
“HorsePower was encouraged by Communities to re-develop the existing buildings on the site and provide for an onsite caretaker. Nothing in our project proposal to build this equestrian facility has changed since we shared our design plans with Communities in early 2018.”
“Communities invited us to a number of meetings in 2019 with Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and invested heavily in our project in 2020 by commissioning an asbestos remediation report of the site.
“As late as May 2020 we were assured by Communities that the project was in good order and in October 2020 we were provided with a draft lease.”
The charity’s current agreement to operate on private property in Sawyers Valley ends in April 2023. Ms Millard said the need for a new venue is now even more pressing.
“We aspired to a purpose-built facility with innovative autism-friendly features. Over half of our participants have neuro-diverse needs.
“But our new reality is to find somewhere with enough land and equestrian infrastructure to continue to support people with a range of disabilities and their families and our large local volunteer workforce. Ideally, we can then expand our offering to support more people.
“We conducted a comprehensive community engagement and marketing survey in April and have good data to support our business case to expand our equine-assisted therapy services to children and adults living with disabilities and mental health challenges. We intend to develop this expansion partly through strategic partnerships with colleague organisations.”
HorsePower Hills has operated on privately owned land in Sawyers Valley since 1999.
HorsePower Hills commenced a search for a new location in 2014.
Negotiations commenced in 2016 with the Education Department to lease vacant Crown Land suitable for grazing in the locality of the Kath French Secure Centre in Stoneville.
An onsite meeting was held in February 2017 with the (then) Department of Child Protection to discuss the development of a riding centre on another section of Crown Land adjacent to the Kath French Secure Facility.
Productive meetings were held with Department of Communities between 2017 and 2021 to progress the HorsePower project.
Matthew Hughes, MLA for Kalamunda, asked a question in Parliament in September 2020 which led to a draft lease being offered to HorsePower Hills.
In December 2020 Shire of Mundaring awarded HorsePower Hills a matching grant to conduct community consultation and market research into the equestrian needs of the Hills catchment areas and to develop a business plan for bigger riding centre.
The Stoneville site contains some buildings remaining from the Hillston Boys Reformatory Farm School.
HorsePower Hills was established in 1978 as Riding for the Disabled Hills Group and has provided services to over a thousand children and young people with disability. It is supported by groups of more than 40 volunteers each year.