Support our secure field plans

If you have been following our journey you’ll know that we’ve been planning to open an amazing secure dog exercise field in the heart of the South Downs. We believe our plans for our paddock will ensure we become host to one of the leading outdoor spaces for canine enrichment in the region.

Our secure site plans

Next to our centre is a 1 acre paddock which has been left to become an unruly meadow. It’s our plan to bring this back to life and serve the canine community with more than just a field to be let loose in:

  • A drive in and secure site where dogs can behave naturally – they can run, jump and dig freely
  • A 120ft x 120ft agility arena and working gun dog scurry training ground
  • A sensory area full of long grass, natural planting and enriching activities for young and geriatric dogs
  • A place where dogs undertaking rehabilitation programmes can safely undertake controlled exercise
  • Adventurous play areas to safely and securely climb, roll, jump, run, and be enriched
  • A privately bookable space for family dogs, social groups and training groups

For many animals this kind of exercise, stimulation and enrichment is not possible as due to their nature, health or owner abilities. You can find a sneak peak at what we’re planning at:

If you love this idea then please click here, search for SDNP/19/02142/FUL and comment in support!

We ask that you only comment if you live with 20 miles of Petersfield to ensure credibility of respondents | Comment by the 7th July

Doing this the right way

Since the start of our business, we’ve made the conscious decision to do the right thing, whether that’s choosing our marketing locations to avoid poaching clients from other centres or ensuring we have planning permission for our activities when no other dog park in the region has done so. Some call us crazy but we believe this is the right thing to do.

We submitted our application to the South Downs National Park authority on Friday 3rd May and we’re super excited that we have support from:

  • Hampshire County Council Highways Officer
  • Hampshire County Council Senior Ecologist
  • East Hampshire District Council Drainage Officer
  • East Hampshire District Council Principle Conservation Officer

A glitch in our journey

Unfortunately, the Froxfield and Privett Parish Council have made some assumptions which have lead to them objecting to the application. Their objection is primarily two-fold:

  1. The creation of a small hard standing to avoid cars bedding in during winter months is Urban Sprawl
  2. Speculation on behalf of our neighbours that dogs could be a nuisance

We hold hope that the East Hampshire District Council planning officer will take an objective approach to their decision making however the parish council have made some odd (in our opinion) recommendations of conditions which unless addressed would render significant problems for field users.

Briefly, we’ll address each of those points however:

Urban Sprawl

The spread of an Urban area into the Country Side

Collins english dictionary

The setting of some crushed stone, in keeping with that of countryside tracks, and used to prevent cars from being stuck in the mud during winter months, cannot be called Urban Sprawl so we are at a bit of a loss on this comment. We think what they mean by this is “first a carpark, next a warehouse” so they are pre-emptively assuming our landlords may build on the site not knowing that this wouldn’t be possible as there are significant amenities and soak-away structures under the field serving the business park we occupy.

The parish council call into question alignment to South Downs National Park Authority policy, although we read the policy and definitely comply:

  • The proposal is informed by the landscape character and is reflective of the landscape
  • Supported by the Conservation and Ecology Officers
  • Safeguards the paddock from physical development
  • Does not lie within a designed landscape
  • Does not impact the identity or integrity of settlements and the land lying between them

The parish council have failed to consider National Park policies CP6 and CP19 which favour applications such as this as they are focussed on promoting rural enterprise provided that they do not harm the character of the site or its surrounding areas. These policies go as far as recommending developments are permitted for:

  • Farm Diversification – We’re based on an ex-poultry farm diversifying into a business park
  • Country Pursuits – Exercising a dog is definitely one of these
  • For local people – Our catchment area is just 25 miles which is definitely local

Nuisance to neighbours

Remember what we said about doing things right, well here is an example of just deeply we’ve considered this proposal. We wanted to think about the noises of dogs barking and how this might affect the local residential and commercial neighbours. So rather than ignore it we undertook noise assessments. Here’s what we found should a dog bark:

  • Our nearest neighbour would hear the dog bark at between 5 and 10 dB less than minimum standard
  • Crows roosting in the nearby tree line were louder than a dog bark
  • Nearby horses, sheep, lorries and farm vehicles all have the potential to be louder than dogs

Given the parish council have notably deemed this research and survey as “appropriate” and offer no counter evidence or research we thought we’d ask our neighbours what they thought. They were all sent a letter and some of them we even visited in person – have any of them demonstrated any concerns? Nope none at all.

That leads us to then consider the parish’s view that the proposed hours are excessive.

To consider this you need to know that we are part of a business park including light industrial and manufacturing businesses, and as far as we know this business park has no covenants controlling hours of operation except for the Canine Fitness Centre. The centre is limited to 2,600 hours per year operations and we’ve proposed that the paddock is available for 2,500 hours per year.

Now, reflect on that. Less hours, less dogs to be ‘a nuisance’, uncontrolled industrial processes but a paddock previously occupied by horses to be used by dogs is to be considered excessive? This doesn’t stack up.

Full disclosure: You can read the full response from the Parish Council on the South Downs National Park website at and searching SDNP/19/02142/FUL

Conditional Recommendations

As you can see, the parish council have made some broad ranging speculations around a secure exercise field, that’s their prerogative, what we do object to is using these assumptions to form conditions that put at risk animal welfare and damage the rural economy.

Some of the conditions we’ve self recommended but below are a couple that stand out as being a concern for us and our clients:

C. That the consent be temporary with a maximum of three years

There’s no significant monetary value in this paddock, it will probably break even with running costs, but it is going to cost in excess of £5,000 to establish. We are honestly doing this to benefit our clients and the local rural communities in need of a secure professional dog training and exercise environment. Any business in these economically unstable times, whether encouraged by planning policy to deliver farm diversification, is not rightly going to put at risk their money when consent could be withdrawn on arbitrary grounds after 3 years – that’s crazy! This is actually counter to Government Guidance, East Hampshire District Council strategy and contrary to the South Downs National Park policy.

D. To control use of the facility by time and day

The parish council want us to NOT use the paddock after 18.00 and be limited to 13.00 on a Saturday. In the winter the 18:00 aspect might be practical due to natural light levels and seasonality however we find this suggestion absolutely terrifying when you think of the summer, in short the parish council want field users to:

  • Only exercise their dog in the hottest period of the day
  • Not be able to access the field after a normal days work
  • Be closed for 75% of the weekend when the site is most needed

There is absolutely no credible justification for this recommendation which could put animals lives at risk if the paddock is the only viable option for exercise for them. There is a high likelihood of owners breaching RSPCA guidance and potentially the Animal Welfare act if we irresponsibly opened at these recommended timings.

If you love our ideas but think these conditions are out of this world thinking then please please click here, search for SDNP/19/02142/FUL and help the planning officer understand the potential risks.

We ask that you only comment if you live with 20 miles of Petersfield to ensure credibility of respondents | Comment by the 7th July

We think dogs deserve better, and we hope that the planning officers on the 9th July will be objective in their decision making, taking onboard all of the comments and not penalise us for getting consent and doing this properly.

We love where we are based and we think this is a high demand facility but would love your support in ensuring East Hampshire District Council planning officers know how supported it is and how crazy the parish council conditions are.

Responses need to be received by the district council no later than the 7th July 2019.

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