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REFUSING plans for dog breeding kennels at Ebbw Vale on animal welfare grounds could leave the council open to an appeal, planning officials have warned.
Councilors at Blaenau Gwent decided to turn down a proposal to convert a former stable into 30 kennels at Star Fields, Mountain Road earlier this month.
Concerns about the request went against the spirit of Lucy’s Law, which requires animals to be raised in a safe environment with their mothers and are supported by the council, and about the adequacy of the building to keep up to 25 dogs on site were expressed.
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Planning officers are now drafting the reasons for the denial of the request ahead of a meeting next week.
While councilors have decided to deny the application – against a recommendation for approval – a Notice of Decision is only issued after the grounds for denial have been decided.
A council report says the decision to refuse was made because councilors ‘agreed with the vast majority of opposing third parties that it was not an appropriate building for animal welfare reasons’.
“I can understand why members have sympathy for this position,” writes Steve Smith, head of council development at Blaenau Gwent, in a report.
“Animal welfare is a sensitive subject.
“However, there is a separate regulatory regime in place to enforce these issues.
“In our case, the service is provided by Powys County Council.
“It is a fundamental principle of the planning system that it should not seek to exercise control over matters dealt with by separate legislation.
“That appears to be the case here. Whether the building is able to comply with animal welfare legislation (including Lucy’s Law) is the responsibility of environmental health colleagues.
A petition against the plans has been signed by around 7,800 people, while 102 emails of objection have been sent to the council, along with MP and MA concerns.
An email was filed in support of the claim, from a veterinary nurse, stating that the claimant is meeting the medical needs of the puppies in his care.
But a planning decision “cannot be based simply on the volume of letters received,” Smith adds.
“In my view, if planning permission is refused on animal welfare grounds, the council will not be able to vigorously defend its decision on appeal,” the report adds.
The report advises councilors to decide on the request based on its “planning merit”.
Any animal welfare concerns can then be referred to the environmental health department, he adds.
The proposed grounds for refusal, which will be discussed by the committee next Thursday, state: “The building is not suitable for housing large numbers of dogs in enclosures without adversely affecting the health and welfare of the animals.
“Furthermore, breeding dogs there would not be in keeping with the spirit of Lucy’s Law.”