The next application was introduced as planning application number 143301, for change of use of agricultural land to dog exercising park, on land to the West of Reepham Village Hall, Hawthorn Road, Reepham, Lincoln. The Chairman requested any updates from the Planning Officer and it was explained that a further comment had been received from the Environmental Protection Officer, accepting the waste management plan, providing a contact number was added. That number was added to the plan by the applicant so there was a point of contact for residents or anyone using the site. The start time of 7am had also been accepted. The Officer then detailed the application for the Committee.
The Chairman explained there were three registered speakers, all of whom had submitted statements to be read aloud, and he asked the Democratic Services Officer to begin.
The first statement from the applicant, Joe Good, was read as follows:
“Mr Chairman and members of the planning committee, I am the applicant and local farmer and would like to introduce my proposed project.
This farm diversification proposal came forwards following a huge increase in dog owners over lockdown, and in turn a huge increase in dog walkers. Unfortunately many people are unable to keep to public footpaths which results in trespass causing crop loss, and disturbance to wildlife which we are very keen to preserve. This is when the idea came to light.
The proposal consists of 2.5 acres of purpose sown dog grass with 2m high secure dog fencing and small car parking area for customers using this facility. People will be able to privately hire the exercise field for 1 hour slots from our website and receive a unique code to enter the dog park at the time of the booking.
The dog park is likely to attract:
• People training their young dogs
• Training dogs for a better recall
• Exercise for reactive dogs
• General off lead exercise
We will supply bio-degradable dog waste bags held within a dispenser. Supplied dog waste bin will be collected regularly by Biffa as stated in our waste/ odour management plan along with further details. Signage will be on site reminding customers of the rules and etiquette, mainly to promote picking up behind your pets. We will spot pick the field on a regular basis and monitor.
The proposal is located on a relatively unproductive field corner with existing access to Hawthorn road, screened by mature hedging. We feel a safe dog facility of this nature is missing, with only 1 other in Lincoln over 12 miles away.
Having spoken with local residents, the feedback we received was positive. Having liaised with a planning officer through a pre-application process, the feedback was positive.
A farm diversification project like this would bring positivity to the local farming business, whilst delivering a bespoke facility in Reepham.
The second statement, from Ellis Purvis, was read as follows:
“The proposed times of 7 am are not ideal, this means people will be arriving before 7 am with potentially loud dogs and people hanging around. If the gates are not open they will be waiting outside on the road which is essentially outside our house which would cause a nuisance. Even if the gates are open it is still too close and the noise will be the same.
Is there a need for this? Has market research been done that proves that this is a need in the area? If so why does this need to be so close to residential property. Can this not be done opposite other agricultural land as there is ample amount on this road. This makes us question the motives. Could the land not be behind (north) of the Village Hall which would take it away from residential and put it out of sight.
We feel this would not enhance the area and potentially bring it down. This is planned directly opposite my house to which I have just built and planned an extension based around looking into the field which will now not be the case. This will affect the value of my house and the build therefore if I knew this prior, we may not have gone ahead with the build. The proposed fence and carpark are not aesthetically pleasing and sounds very industrial even with the wood post fence proposed it still has wire fence between.
Lastly has the wildlife impact been assessed, we often see wild deers roaming in this area and would be a shame to lose that.
We therefore strongly object to the proposal.
Ellis & Sarah Purvis”
The third and final statement, from Gary Brader, was read aloud as follows:
“Good evening Committee. We are residents living opposite the planned dog exercise area on Hawthorn Road. We have lived here since 2013 and one of the reasons for the purchase of the house was the lovely view across the open fields.
I strongly object to these plans because
1. Our main worry is that once the land has been converted from Agricultural to leisure use it would then become easier in the future to put in an application for planning for housing development. That would seriously effect the value of the homes opposite and seriously increase traffic. Can you assure us this will not be the case?
2. I feel that a 6 foot high steel mesh perimeter fence would be most unattractive.
3. I do not see the need for a new enclosed dog exercise area when we live in the countryside with many public bridleway's in close proximity including access to nearby field areas and the old airfield is very close by. I cannot see any reason the landowner would want to do this other than for future development of another kind for his own benefit. Once again I ask can you assure us this will not be the case?
In conclusion: we cannot see the benefit of this to anyone other than the landowner! Why would he do this and to what end?
If possible I would like to receive the minutes from the meeting in order to see the responses.
Many thanks for your time and consideration.
The Chairman thanked the Democratic Services Officer and invited further comment from the Planning Officer. He noted that it would not be reasonable to request an ecology report, housing was dealt with under a different policy and the application for consideration by the Committee was as presented.
The Chairman opened discussions for the Committee and there were considerable concerns raised regarding the potential number of dogs allowed on the site, the potential for parking issues for local residents, the start time of sessions, particularly on weekend mornings as well as associated noise with animals and vehicle movements. Members suggested amended conditions regarding operational times and limiting the number of animals allowed at any one time. There were questions raised as to the viability of the proposal however it was highlighted that it was not the role of the Committee to assess viability, rather to decide whether the site and location was suitable for the application as presented.
There was significant discussion as to whether the hours of operation could be limited, for example shorter hours, earlier finishing times in winter months, longer hours in summer months. It was also suggested that the number of dogs should be limited in an effort to minimise disruption to local residents.
Members were advised by the Legal Adviser that the start time of operations had already been amended from 6am to 7am, with no objections raised by the Environmental Protection Officer. Should there be problems arising regarding noise complaints, these would be dealt with under other legislation and whilst conditions could be used to limit hours of operation, it had to be considered whether it was a reasonable and enforceable condition. It was noted that concerns regarding people using the site in darkness were not for the Committee to condition against and it was personal choice of the users as to whether they wished to walk their dogs after dark.
There was also uncertainty amongst Committee Members as to whether there was a need for such a site, however it was highlighted that the Committee were to decide whether it was a suitable location, rather than whether there was a need for it.
On hearing the repeated concerns of the Committee, and having had no proposer for the recommendation to grant permission, the Chairman proposed that the application be deferred for the next available meeting, on the understanding that further details were sought from the applicant regarding hours of operation, particularly through winter months, and numbers of dogs allowed at any one time. On having this proposal seconded, the vote was taken and it was unanimously agreed that the application be DEFERRED to the next available meeting.