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Gloucestershire Business News

Dog field plan reined in

A bid for a four-hectare dog-walking business on land bordering the Severn at Elmore has been halted in its tracks by planners – leaving the applicant aghast.

Michael Watts, who farms land with his family at Elmore's Elm Farm, proposed changing the use for a field designated for agriculture, their proposal being to set up a dog walking field which would include a 10.6m sq shelter building and appropriate fencing for the area.

Agent for the bid, Lauren Gaunt, of Bruton Knowles, told Stroud District Council planners that the proposed building would be clad in horizontal timber and have a black sheet metal roof, while a bin would be provided for dog waste created from the scheme. Proposed opening hours for visitors and their dogs to access the field would be from 6.00am to 8.00pm, seven days a week.

But despite the original application being made in late August, a report on the proposal issued last Thursday suggested that it did not satisfy criteria for approval.

Case officer Tom Fearn told planners: "It has not been demonstrated that the proposal would meet one of the exception principles that support development outside settlement limits."

As such the proposal ran contrary to policy CP15 of the Stroud District Local Plan (November 2015).

He added the bid had also had "not been adequately demonstrated how the viability of the farming enterprise would be sufficiently supported by the proposed enterprise and the provided business plan does not provide substantial enough evidence of this.

"In addition, the site is also in a remote location, away from the other farm buildings which serve Elm Farm and it has not been demonstrated that the proposal would not have a detrimental impact on the road network, contrary to the criteria of EI5."

Given proximity to the Severn, he added that "it is possible that the land has a functional link to the Severn Estuary and its bird species. As no biodiversity survey has been provided, there is insufficient information to be able to adequately assess the impacts on biodiversity."

Accepting an additional recommendation that the site was "not within an accessible location and most visitors would be reliant on using a private car," planners refused the application.

However, applicant Michael Watts told his family was surprised by the bid's rejection.

Mr Watts said: "It seems they have decided in this way because we are too rural. Farms are rural! We are actually just over a mile from a housing estate. We are disappointed because farms are supposed to find other enterprises and this one was a proposal that makes no real change to the look and feel of what a farm does; it would remain as a green field."

● Elm Farm is no stranger to diversification initiatives and meanwhile continues to offer a popular seasonal event with a PYO pumpkin and corn field. Pumpkins offered by the farm during October's season ranged from small to supersize.

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