Who let the dogs out?

08 Jan 2024

It is interesting and encouraging when new business concepts emerge in response to change and new challenges in our daily lives. Economic forces at work to meet a demand. The well-documented rise in dog-ownership during Covid lockdown was closely followed by a boom in dog-walking companies as people returned to work and now a trend has emerged for the provision of bespoke dog-exercise paddocks, judging by the growing number of appeal decisions.

The concept is a simple one. Take an area of green open land, usually in the countryside or settlement fringe, provide somewhere to park, fencing and dog-poo bins, maybe some seats, possibly a shelter or dog-agility jumps, and away you go… subject to planning permission of course.

In this respect it pays to think through the proposal thoroughly. Avoiding sensitive landscapes and being aware that parking, paraphernalia and activity are not conducive to green belt openness may increase the chances of success. There are many examples available of failed appeals relating to dog-exercise paddocks in such locations.

Practicalities such as secure fencing should also not be over-looked. An inspector wise in the ways of man’s best friend turned down a proposal (400-043-695) to change the use of an agricultural field to a private dog walking leisure and recreational facility in the Kent countryside. While the council appeared content with the appellant’s statement that the boundary treatment around the field would be unaltered, the inspector observed that the existing boundary fences were not high enough to contain frightened or poorly behaved dogs. The inspector identified a requirement for significantly higher fences to safeguard the dogs, which would be out of keeping with the scenic beauty of a national landscape and difficult to resist if the change of use were permitted.

On this basis and the loss of rural character to commercial activity, the inspector determined that the proposal would not conserve the special qualities of this part of the Kent downs national landscape and should be dismissed, although it was found not to be an inappropriate development in the green belt.

Refer to DCP 23.1 for more on planning matters relating to the care of domestic pets.