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Dog hotel woman ‘hounded’ over plans

A LANCASHIRE-BASED businesswoman claims neighbours have bullied her since announcing plans to build a luxury dog kennels on her farm.

Nicki Platt from Formby had plans to create a US-style canine hotel and spa at previously derelict Ravenmeols Farm, Kew Road, Formby that would be unique to the UK. But the reaction she has had from neighbours is making her reconsider, she said.

‘It’s a question of whether I can stomach another fight to put the planning application in, and I really don’t know,’ said Ms Platt, 35. ‘I have had terrible trouble and now just walking down the street is getting difficult. Some neighbours have been really, really supportive, but others are emailing me daily saying slanderous things.‘I feel like I will be asking for more trouble if I go ahead with it. I have had to have the police involved because I’ve had neighbours jumping over the fence at me and videoing what I’m doing, when all I have done is make the place look a lot nicer and clear a rat-ridden area.’

Ms Platt says she has had 15 visits from Sefton Council officers after neighbours made complaints, most of which have proved unfounded. On one occasion someone told the council she allowed fly tipping on her land, after her gardener had left a pile of green waste there.

Another time she had a visit from a wildlife police officer, after reports that she was disturbing endangered bats in her outbuildings. He confirmed that bats did not roost there and ‘never would’.

After one visit, council officers told Ms Platt she needed planning permission for a 12ft by 10ft wooden dog kennel she had built for her three pets and a grass area they used for exercise. Although the kennels had been in place more than eight months, Sefton’s planning department received 17 complaint letters from nearby residents and a petition of more than 60 signatures objecting.

‘The person who went round with the petition implied the kennel was for 50 dogs,’ said Ms Platt. ‘Lots of people have stopped me and apologised since it has become common knowledge that it is just a small kennel. They said they hadn’t looked into it properly.’

Since buying the farm Ms Platt has renovated the Grade II listed farmhouse, had a dangerous barn removed and had asbestos safely taken out of outbuildings.

‘I am here investing in a listed building and these people are trying to destroy everything I do,’ she said. ‘The council isn’t supportive although I am turning an area back into a beauty spot in Formby. It seems people would rather it be destroyed. The reaction has been over the top.’

Ms Platt recently began a dog training and behaviour service, dealing with pets’ bad behaviour in their own homes.

One neighbour complained to the council stating: ‘The applicant operates a business called Bark Busters which means that they bring home a number of problem dogs.’

Ms Platt hit back saying that the total opposite was true and that her training methods would not work if she brought the dogs back to her own premises for training.

Ms Platt has lived in Formby all her life and was given an Excellence in New Business Award in 2005 by Sefton Council for her highly successful 24-hour property line.