Published: 10:23, 27 April 2021
| Updated: 11:04, 27 April 2021
A decision on whether a 'highly valued' dog walking facility in Folkestone can remain open has been postponed.
Retrospective planning permission has been submitted to turn a one acre agricultural field off Underhill Road into a place for private dog walking.
The business, S&S Doggie Field, opened in October 2019, but the planning application was only discussed by members of Folkestone and Hythe District Council's planning committee this month.
Councillors spent an hour discussing the application, with many admitting they were 'torn' over the scheme.
This is despite planning officers recommending that the application be refused because it fails "to justify that this business essentially requires a rural location".
A resident speaking against the dog field described the location as 'unsuitable' and said the dogs' close proximity to other animals, such as horses and sheep, is having a negative effect.
The resident also raised concerns over the extra noise, disturbance and extra traffic created along the narrow lane from walkers arriving at the field.
Another resident, speaking in support of the business, said the field provides a safe and secure area to walk her pets, and removes fears over dog theft and Covid-19 issues.
Some councillors said they worried it was the wrong location, while others suggested it was the right place, as it would not suit an urban location.
In the end, members of the committee voted to defer the decision so that more discussions could take place.
The owners of the site say they are 'pleased' with the deferral as it means they can provide more information to explain why the business is suitable.
Nick Kirby, from Pegasus Group, the planning consultants behind the scheme, said: "The application relates to a small scale dog walking use, which is highly valued by a passionate community of local dog walkers, for providing an opportunity to walk dogs in a safe and secure environment away from other dogs, cars and members of the public.
"The applicants have worked tirelessly to provide a comprehensive application which is supported by professional reports, confirming the proposal will not lead to any unacceptable impacts.
"Planning officers acknowledge this, but were concerned about the rural location of the site.
"Therefore the applicants are pleased that councillors have given them the opportunity to provide additional information to explain why the proposed business needs to be located in a rural area, to provide the space and security which is so valued by clients of the business.
"It is hoped that reconsideration of this matter will allow the council to approve the application and safeguard this valuable local facility."