There were smiles all round when an award-winning dog rescue group was officially recognised as running a kennels and re-homing centre from a site near Horsham.
Elaine Barter, of Arundawn Dog Rescue, took over Highgate Kennels and Rehoming Centre, in Hammerpond Road, Plummers Plain, more than 20 years ago.
In that time, she and her team have cared for and re-homed stray and pound dogs, as well as providing for rescued, sick or foaling horses.
While there was no question of the centre being told to move, an application put to Horsham District Council’s planning committee north asked for the use of the site to be regularised – established on an official basis.
It also asked for retrospective permission to extend one of the outbuildings to create an office.
A report to the committee said the request to regularise the site was made in recognition of the fact that activity there ‘fluctuated’, depending on how many dogs needed to be taken in.
There was huge support for Mrs Barter, a three-time winner of the County Times annual ‘care for animals’ community award in association with the district council.
Some 38 letters were sent to the council, with writers praising the work carried out at the centre.
At the meeting, neighbour Paul Skudder, who has lived a few doors down from Mrs Barter for 16 years, described her work as ‘tremendous’ and added: “She’s never once in 16 years caused a problem. No noise, no odours, nothing.”
Noise was one of the issues raised among the 15 letters of objection received by the council, with other concerns raised about cleanliness and the number of dogs at the site.
One neighbour claimed that a dog had escaped but, with no one able to verify the claim – and assurances given by officers that the exercise area had secure fencing – the complaint was disregarded.
Toni Bradnum (Con, Nuthurst) said she had ‘no real objection’ to the application ‘so long as the number of dogs and the waste is dealt with’.
The disposal of waste was one of the conditions of approval, but the council did not set a limit on the number of dogs the centre could take in, saying it would be ‘difficult to enforce’.
The application was approved unanimously.
Mrs Barter said she was ‘chuffed’ by the decision.