The popularity of dog parks set up in unused fields could rise among farmers and landowners after a property consultancy won a planning appeal to create one in Cheshire.
Fisher German helped Steph Cheadle, director of the Dog Paddocks in Lower Whitley, gain retrospective planning permission on appeal after Cheshire council refused the application.
The firm led the appeal and believes the precedent set will result in a bigger increase in an already popular diversification strategy for farmers and landowners.
There has been a rising demand for dog parks since the pandemic, when many people decided to welcome a dog into their home but were not able to socialise them properly.
Dog parks provide a private space for training or walking dogs without the distractions of a public park, and many pet owners are willing to pay for the privilege of using them.
To take advantage of that demand, Fisher German has helped farmers and landowners with advice on how to set up these businesses and gain the necessary planning consent.
Nia Borsey, associate at the firm, said: “For the most part, change of use applications in the green belt tended to be granted as the impact of a dog park, assuming access was manageable, was minimal.
“However, when Cheshire West and Chester Council opted to refuse the retrospective application in Lower Whitley, we felt an appeal was likely to be granted as the impact to the green belt was low.
“It was fantastic news for Steph that the appeal was indeed granted, but it is even better news for landowners looking for a less intensive diversification strategy.
“The precedent set by the appeal win makes it far more likely that local authorities will grant similar applications elsewhere, as they know they are unlikely to win at appeal if they refuse.”
As diversification projects go, converting an under-utilised field into a dog park requires little investment and development from the landowner.
Some decide to run the business themselves, and others choose to rent out their land to an existing business so they don’t have to operate it directly.
Ellie Savage, senior surveyor at Fisher German said: “Many bring in a solid source of either direct income or rental payments all year round, especially if the field is relatively close to an urban area.
“Diversifying land without developing it also means it could still be used for a bigger project in the future should the opportunity present itself.
“With the appeal for the Lower Whitley dog park having been granted, we are advising landowners who are uncertain what diversification projects might be best for them to consider creating a dog park or similar on their land.”