HOUSEHOLDER Alan Walker was stunned when a visit from a valuation officer declared his family’s domestic stables a business.

The 57-year-old education IT expert, his wife Jane and their 15-year-old daughter Victoria keep two horses in grounds of their Rossendale house.

The stables have always been treated as part of their Higher Fairbanks Farm home in Goodshaw Fold for council tax purposes.

But following the May visit, they have been reclassified as liable for business rates because the stables are too far from the house, landing Mr Walker with a potential £1,500 a year bill.

He said: “We were stunned. We never expected this. They are just domestic stables where we keep Victoria’s pet horses.

“Currently the Treasury pays the rates for so-called small ‘businesses’ under a special arrangement, which means I don’t pay at the moment. A change in the rules could land me with a £1,500 a year bill.

“It will affect my ability to sell the property where my family has lived since 1995.

“I don’t need this hanging over me when I start to think about retirement.”

Today his MP Jake Berry will take up the issue in the House of Commons.

The Rossendale and Darwen Tory has secured a special half-hour date on ‘Business Rates on Rural Areas’ in Parliament’s second Westminster Hall Chamber replied to by a Treasury Minister.

He will raise what he believes is a national change of policy on domestic stables.

Mr Berry said: “Mr Walker is being charged two lots of ‘rates’ on his home, domestic, and non-domestic/business.

“The Valuation Office is trying to impose a business rate on where he keeps his family pets which happen to be horses not cats, dogs or rabbits.

“Nationally, people who keep horses on their land, including many in Rossendale and around Darwen, are being taxed twice.”

A Valuation Office spokesman said the determining factor was where stables blocks were located on a person’s land.