Plans to open a dog day care facility near Ditchling are set to go before Lewes councillors next week. 

On Wednesday (November 25), Lewes District Council planners are set to consider proposals to open a dog day care business for up to 130 dogs at Middleton Common Farm, near Ditchling Common. 

If approved, it would trade as a branch of Bruce’s Doggy Day Care – a Surrey-based business, with three other such facilities.

However, the proposals have proven to be contentious with some local residents, who argue it would be the wrong location for such a business. 

One objector, Simon James, said: “I must point out that the biggest problem our local community would have is noise. 

“I just don’t believe the report that Doggy’s has submitted. [The farm’s owner] Mrs Best has a dog and we can hear that even though there are now leaves on the trees. 

“The odd dog we can live with. 130 dogs continually barking away at each other – as dogs do naturally – will drive us crazy.”

Other objectors also raised concerns around the impact of a business on local traffic, particularly as the business would involve a daily drop-off and pick-up.

To mitigate this daily traffic, the business would run a “doggy bus” which would see staff pick up and drop off dogs from their owners’ address. It would arrive on site at around 8.30am,.

The business would also have its own access track, which would be constructed as part of the development. A reception building and car park would also be built on site.

Concerns around noise have been considered by the council’s environmental health team, which visited the business’ other facilities and found noise was well-managed ‘due to levels of staff supervision, engagement, small groups of dogs and a spacious external environment’. 

However, officers also said there could not be a fair comparison, as the existing sites have background traffic noise from the M25. 

As a result the environmental health recommended a temporary permission be considered, but did not raise any further objection.

An objection was submitted by the council’s landscape officer, however, who argued that the dogs (and the wider business activities) would disrupt the tranquillity of the area. 

The officer also objected to the construction of the facility would damage the appearance of the site.

Despite the concerns, the application is recommended for full, not temporary, approval.  There would, however, be a condition preventing exercise of the dogs off-site.

In a report to be considered by the committee, a Lewes planning spokesman said: “In this case, the applicant’s business model and the provision of 15 full-time jobs would result in overriding social and economic benefits, particularly in the context of the current pandemic, which merit a flexible approach to use of this greenfield site and outweigh the likely harm to the character and appearance of the area.

“On that basis and the ability to secure more comprehensive and sympathetic landscaping measures, the proposed development is acceptable and recommended for approval subject to the following conditions.”

For further information see application reference LW/20/0140 on the Lewes District Council planning website.