Rejecting dog-walking site plans over access concerns was woof justice, owner of Peebles business tells council

A controversial dog-walking site near Milkieston Toll House at Peebles.
A controversial dog-walking site near Milkieston Toll House at Peebles.

Rejecting plans for a dog-walking site near Peebles was woof justice, according to an applicant hoping to have that decision overturned next week.

Paul Lawrie applied for permission to convert agricultural land near Milkiestone Toll House, north of the town, into a fenced area for exercising dogs in August 2018, but planning officials rejected that bid in April, citing concerns over access from the A703 Peebles-Lothianburn route.

Mr Lawrie, boss of a dog-walking business called the Fast and the Furriest, believes that reason for rejection was barking up the wrong tree, though, and is calling on Scottish Borders Council’s local review body to reverse it at its meeting on Monday, September 16.

Officers are sticking to their guns, however, and recommending that councillors uphold their decision, made using delegated powers.

In his decision notice, John Hayward, the council’s planning and development standards manager, writes: “The development is contrary to policy in that intensified traffic usage of the sub-standard vehicular access creates a detrimental impact on road safety on the A703. 

“The continued use of the existing sub-standard access would result in an unacceptable adverse impact on road safety, including, but not limited, to the site access.”

The application also raised the hackles of a neighbour of the seven-acre site, Ray Haston, of Milkieston Toll House, Ray Haston.

In an objection submitted to the council, he says: “The dogs are noisy during the day as they run around in a pack.

“It is impossible to stop dogs from barking with this type of set-up.

“I see no reason this proposal should be granted as they clearly have little or no genuine regard for the area or for planning regulations.

An appeal by Mr Lawrie, of Friarton Garden in Penicuik, Midlothian, was originally due to be heard last month but a decision was postponed awaiting more details regarding road usage and access.

Council officers have not had their minds changed by further information supplied by Mr Lawrie, though.

In a report to councillors, planning officer Ranald Dods urges the committee to reject the proposals, saying: “The proposed use is not one which can easily be located within an urban setting, and a rural location is appropriate.

“The land will be used for the intended purpose for only a limited number of hours per day in the working week, and for the majority of the week the land will appear as any other field in a rural setting.

“No buildings are proposed for the site. 

“Whilst the use is broadly acceptable, the issue of road safety at the access has not been overcome to the satisfaction of roads officers and a recommendation of refusal has been made.”