Objections to relocation of Tyrone dog re-homing centre

Mid Ulster District Council’s planning committee has rejected an application to relocate a dog re-homing centre to the outskirts of Ballygawley.

Lodged by agent CD Consulting, on behalf of applicant Tyrone Husky Rescue, the application sought permission to change the use of an existing horse stable building at lands approximately 170m north east of 40 Ballynahaye Road to a dog re-homing centre.

It proposed to retain two modular buildings and create one dwelling house, all of which will be used in association with the dog re-homing centre.

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The application came before a recent planning committee, as a result of six objections lodged against it. The concerns in the objections include noise pollution from barking dogs, safety concerns should a husky get loose and concerns about an increase in traffic on the rural roads as customers and volunteers visit the site.

Mid Ulster DIstrict Council offices in Magherafelt.

A planning officer informed members the application claims the dwelling is necessary to ensure someone is on site at all times and explained the business was previously located at an address in Dungannon but had to move.

The report presented to members notes the agent is of the belief this proposal represents an exceptional circumstance but the planning officer disagrees with this assessment.

“I am not wholly convinced this ‘business’ would be considered such an important service provider to be considered as meeting the exceptions case,” reads the officer’s report.

“The business of Tyrone Husky Rescue may have been established since 2017, however it is not lawful at the said address and no use has or is established on this application site.”

The committee was also made aware that a deferral had been requested with the agent claiming additional information needed to be considered. However no further information was put forward to officers and Environmental Health “have not been satisfied with the information currently provided”.

Given this, the planning officer in charge of this case recommended the committee refuse the application.

Speaking in objection to the application, Clare Donnelly said she had lived in the area all her life and claimed it was not a suitable location for a dog re-homing centre.

“The main industry here is farming,” said Ms Donnelly.

“We own the neighbouring farm both adjacent to and opposite the site and we are unable to use our land because our sheep and cattle are so fearful and unsettled by the noise of the dogs. They are at high risk of breaking out and causing injury to themselves and other road users.

“The noise is awful, the dogs are barking morning, noon and night and at least 9/10 dogs have been there since March 21. We are also concerned this could lead to a loss of local wildlife like buzzards.

“This re-homing centre is having a detrimental impact already and I am very concerned about long term impacts of this application.”

Councillor Clement Cuthbertson said he would be keen to have a site visit to get a better understanding of the situation but Sinn Fein group leader, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said there is a “lengthy list of reasons” why the application can not achieve planning permission and said he would be minded to support the officer’s recommendation to refuse the application.

Council’s head of planning, Dr Chris Boomer described it as a “funny application” and said he was “very uncomfortable” with it.

“Someone has gone out there, set up the kennels put a mobile home on the site and is now looking to legitimise that and get a house,” he said.

“We have been asked for a deferral and I am am not opposed to an office meeting but at the same time I am very uncomfortable with this application.

“Someone has gone onto a site and could well be causing nuisance and is now looking for a house and we haven’t been given any policy reason to approve it.”

He continued: “Equally, you could take the other view, someone has chosen to do this, neighbours are saying they are causing nuisance and if someone decides they are going to do it anyway, we are under no obligation to try and facilitate it.

“If we refuse the application they would have the right of planning appeal and everyone could put their arguments forward in that forum.”

Councillor Mark Glasgow said he did not believe the application fit the characteristics of the area and put forward a proposal to support the officer recommendation to refuse the application.

Concurring with Cllr Glasgow, Councillor Sean McPeake said he too was of the opinion it is not a suitable location for this business and seconded the proposal.

Councillor Wills Robinson said he would support the proposal as did the committee Chair, Councillor Kyle Black who noted “the policy is not there to support this application”.

Noting that a number of other applications had been deferred on the night, Cllr Cuthbertson asked if they were deferred for similar reasons as requested by this applicant.

He was told by Dr Boomer that where this application differed from those deferred is the presentation to the committee makes clear in this case that this application is causing harm to its neighbours.

“The deferral would, if the outcome is a refusal and we can see no reason why it would be anything else, only prolong the nuisance,” said Dr Boomer.

Cllr Cuthbertson said he would still be minded to have a site visit but accepted “the majority of the committee appears unwilling to give it that opportunity”.

While acknowledging the points Cllr Cuthbertson made “are fair”, the Chair of the committee Cllr Black said “we have to make a decision based on the policy and the neighbouring properties feeding into the application process obviously have issues with it”.

Cllr Glasgow’s proposal to support the recommendation to refuse the application which was seconded by Cllr Sean McPeake then received the support of the majority of the chamber.

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