A NEW countryside sanctuary for up to 80 rescue dogs on the outskirts of an East Lancashire town has been given the go-ahead by councillors.

The development at Clough Bottom Farm in Broad Oak Road on the way out of Accrington has been approved by Hyndburn Council Planning Committee.

It will knock down existing dilapidated buildings to create a home-style environment for the animals.

The application for planning permission by Emma Billington of Salford-based Dogs4Rescue (D4R) to create a sanctuary complex with an eventual eight staff on site 24 hours a day generated 29 objections.

The ‘not for profit’ Community Interest Company established in 2013 has successfully rehomed 1,500 dogs. It also provides a home to dogs who cannot be rehomed or ‘sanctuary dogs’.

The objections centred around noise; the devaluation of properties; the impact on local ecology, such as deer and flora; smell; traffic; disease; the proposal's location in Green Belt land; and the security of the site.

The committee also received 15 letters of support.

Baxenden Conservative Cllr Terry Hurn opposed approval expressing concern about the potential noise from the dogs but colleagues said on a site visit to the Salford equivalent they had seen little evidence of a barking problem.

An officers' report to councillors said: "The application encompasses the change of use of land from agricultural to land to accommodate a dog and animal sanctuary.

"The first phase of the development would accommodate a sanctuary for up to 20 dogs with the final provision being for up to 80 dogs.

"This includes the provision of single-storey purpose-built dog accommodation with groom room, staff welfare facilities and site office; a single-storey log cabin to provide worker accommodation; and a temporary static caravan to provide additional staff accommodation.

"Once the dog sanctuary has been brought into use, and more funds have been raised the development of the remainder of the site will be undertaken

"Carers will live on site to ensure the dogs are looked after to the standard set by the industry of 10 dogs to one employee."

The committee agreed with the officers' recommendation to grant planning permission with 20 conditions on a split vote.

The report concludes: "Officers consider this would be a suitable location for this type of development and would help to bring an unused agricultural unit back into active use.

"It is recommended the use is only occupied by the applicant because of the bespoke nature of their work."