A PROPOSAL for a change of use of an agricultural field to a dog walking site has been approved despite objections from villagers and a parish council.

The plan is to change the use of an area of land for exercise for dogs at New Road in Pamber Green near Tadley.

It includes the erection of a 1.8m wooden post and wire mesh fence around the perimeter of the land with an area for car parking installed at the front of the site.

Pamber Parish Council and nearly 100 public objections were lodged against the plans citing biodiversity concerns, while more than 50 people supported it.

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However, a development control committee of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council that met on Wednesday, February 7, voted in favour of approving the plans based on recommendations from planning officers.

The committee heard from parish council chairman Simon Greaves, Tadley and Pamber Rural Protection (TPRP) group co-chair Kevin Chatburn and the applicant Debbie White representing Hounds and Bounds.

Mr Greaves reiterated the parish council’s objection to the plans.

He said: “There is no local need and it does not respect the sense of place, tranquillity and remoteness of the area. If approved it will increase traffic, and pollution, as well as erode the existence of habitat of the wildlife in the area.”

Mr Greaves added that out of 96 public comments objecting to the plans, 94 are from the Pamber area, while 33 of the 58 letters of support are from people living outside the parish.

Mr Chatburn said TPRP has listed 13 different reasons for objections, the biodiversity of the area being the main factor.

“Because this is very damaging to the biodiversity of the area and the corridor there, if approved, it would directly to the face of Hampshire County Council’s recovery strategy,” Mr Chatburn said.

He added that the plans would affect birds like lapwings and skylarks in the area.

However, Ms White challenged the ecological impact of the proposal. She said: “A significant amount of our wildlife is nocturnal and are actually only active when the dogs are not present on the site.

“We have a huge amount of customers registered with us with waiting time of over two months for some of our sessions. A large section of our customers already come from Basingstoke, Tadley and Pamber Heath who currently travel to our West Berkshire site. This led us to the opportunity of a field to offer to this catchment area to reduce the travel time and increase the offering within the district.”

Commenting on the application, Cllr Angie Freeman said the basic application is not a problem, but she is concerned about the impact on the wildlife.

“There are many birds on this site and we need to do more to protect them,” she said.

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Cllr Paul Miller echoed his sentiments and said it is not ideal to have a dog walking corridor in the middle of a very rural area, which will scare the wildlife on either side.

However, Cllr Mike Bound took a different view and said the plans show that there is enough ground around to accommodate the dogs.

Cllr Ken Rhatigan also said there are not adequate reasons to reject it.

Seven councillors voted in favour of the application, while four voted against it.