A TURF war – of sorts – has broken out in Clifford Chambers over a dog exercising field.
Members of Stratford District Council’s Planning Committee are meeting on Wednesday (February 22) to decide whether to give the retrospective go-ahead to a change of use from agricultural land to Sui Generis dog walking areas.
And while planning officers have recommended the committee grant the application with certain conditions – in Clifford Chambers there is a rift.
The parish council is staunchly opposed to it, while 28 letters of support have been filed to SDC in its favour.
Members of Clifford Chambers Parish Council have a number of objections. There are the adverse impact on those neighbouring the dog walking area and the increase of traffic on rural roads.
They complain the users of the field obstruct driveways and accesses and there are security concerns.
Parish councillors say a lack of effective management over the months it has been operating has led to “numerous people and vehicles entering the site”, while lack of effective signposting has led to attempts to gain access through private gardens.
The parish council is also calling for a two metre fence around the dog exercising field to make it more secure and for greater consideration to the noise generated by field users – both dog and human.
There has been plenty of support for the dog exercising field. A total of 28 letters have been received by SDC noting it is “an invaluable and unique community asset”. Others say the booking system is effective and easy to use and they rarely encounter those with the next booking.
Supporters state parking is not an issue and adequate parking is provided within the field.
It is also commented that the field is in regular use by charities for dog training and exercise and there are animal welfare benefits derived from having a safe space for dogs to run – especially those that are reactive to other dogs and SDC should support and encourage rural enterprise.
There have, however, been three letters of objection from residents citing parking pressure, highway safety implications and large groups of people seen visiting the site together.
These objectors also claim the operation seems unregulated, the operation hours are too long and there have been incidents of dogs entering neighbouring properties.
In documents to be presented to the planning committee, planning officers state the council should support an application that provides space for local residents to “exercise themselves and their dogs” as it is beneficial for both physical and mental health.
The documents continue: “I do have concerns with the extensive opening hours currently adopted by the business. If left unregulated, I consider that there is potential for neighbours to be subjected to unacceptable noise and disturbance from the comings and goings of customers and dog barking.”
Planning officers have recommended the planning committee grant the application with the following conditions – set opening hours, a maximum party size (of people and dogs), a 15 minute gap between each booking, a maximum number of bookings each day and a regulated length for each booking.