TURNED DOWN: Dog breeder refused permission
Retrospective plans for a dog breeding shed at the back of 342 Norton Road have been refused, Image: Terry Blackburn/Teesside Live
A dog breeding business has been refused planning permission despite being in operation for five years.
Stockton councillors voted 9-4 to turn down the retrospective bid on Norton Road, in Norton, on Wednesday afternoon.
The request for up to 16 French Bulldogs to be bred from the back of the home sparked a string of objections from neighbours – with worries over barking noise, smells from faeces, and the number of animals at the site.
The planning committee also heard how there had been flare-ups between the business owners and some neighbours – with claims of property damage, verbal threats, and timber material being thrown.
Council planning reports showed how noise and thermal insulation had been installed in the dog outhouse – with no objections to the change of use bid from the authority’s environmental health team.
But residents shared concerns about noise disrupting their lives.
Resident Robert Oyston said he’d lived nearby for 29 years with no trouble – but he now felt threatened by “the atmosphere and by verbal threats” and claimed his property had been damaged.
“It’s taken the soul out of our home,” he added.
There were also objections from Granville Grove.
Derrick Smiles said they’d been “inundated with dogs barking”.
“Throughout the summer all you can hear is dogs playing and barking,” he added
“Yes, dogs bark but it’s the sheer amount of it and the times it goes on.”
Debra Smiles told the committee they bought their home for their garden but could “no longer sit there”.
“I haven’t for the last two summers because of the smell of faeces quite regularly around lunchtime and teatime,” she said.
“It means you cannot enjoy a meal or drink out and it lingers for hours.”
Ms Smiles also said she’d faced a “lot of aggression” from the applicants.
She added: “I don’t need the hassle any more – had we known there was going to be a dog kennel there, we would never have bought that place.”
Resident Ann Robinson recalled when the property was a taxi rank.
“Now it’s full of dogs – and it’s driving me mad,” she said.
“I just cannot comprehend how so many animals can be kept in sheds.”
Passion for small dogs
Steve Barker, agent on behalf of the applicants, pointed to how the site had been licensed with the council since 2016.
Mr Barker said: “This isn’t a new venture by any means but one which is stable, regularly inspected by your animal welfare team, and a business which developed out of their hobby and passion for small dogs.”
The agent added the owners had upgraded the facility with a secure external exercise area and insulation.
He pointed to how the council’s environmental health team was satisfied with the noise surveys carried out.
And he added the breeding facility was next door to a petrol station and jet wash on one of Stockton’s busy routes.
“With all that background activity, it’s a little surprising some of the neighbours are upset by what they think is noise from the premises,” said Mr Barker.
“There is an awful lot of noise there which has nothing to do with the business – and it would certainly be a lot less than returning the site back to a general car workshop.”
The agent added there had never been any problems with noise, smells or vermin associated with the business.
Mr Barker also called objections to CCTV “a distraction” – with theft of dogs a “national crime concern”.
And he told the panel the camera system had caught some objectors throwing timber material at the applicants.
“It is something a good neighbour wouldn’t do,” said Mr Barker.
“My clients are still deciding whether to take that footage to the police for them to take further.”
Environmental health officer Stephanie Landles said her team had investigated the property since 2016 – with 15 complaints from five separate properties in that time.
She told councillors they had investigated every time there had been a complaint – but hadn’t found anything to lead the council to take further action.
Ms Landles said: “Since 2020, we’ve not been able to attend the property to put noise recording equipment into homes – but we have done additional monitoring in person from the residents’ street.
“We’ve found given the evidence that there is nothing we’ve been able to action.
“We actually had several visits intermittently with the planning officer as well and we find the insulation and the timetable they have for the dogs is appropriate.”
Cllr Sylvia Walmsley said she was “appalled” at the size of the areas the dogs had – adding she had sympathy for the residents over noise.
“I’m a dog owner myself and I know how irritating they can be to others at times,” she added.
Cllr Lynn Hall was concerned about how upset the neighbours were.
But Cllr Paul Kirton said licensing teams had visited the site with a vet and the breeders had returned “full marks” in the past.
Chairwoman Cllr Norma Stephenson said she’d visited the site for an hour and a half ahead of the meeting to have a look for herself.
She added: “I didn’t hear a thing from the breeding shed until they opened the door – and obviously the dogs bark like mad when you go in.
“But the minute she shut the door, you couldn’t hear it because they’re sound proofed.”
Cllr Stephenson added the pens were connected for the dogs to run about.
“I did go to the rear of the property where the dogs do their business and I couldn’t actually smell anything,” she said.
After 20 minutes of debate, the committee agreed to refuse the application.
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Demcoracy Reporter
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