A DORSET animal rescue centre has been refused planning consent for several buildings – eight years after some of the work was carried out.

The decision could result in the sanctuary facing action by Dorset Council, although is initially likely to be tested by an appeal against the planning refusal.

At the last Dorset Council visit almost a hundred dogs were on the site, together with a small number of horses and donkeys, chickens and geese.

The council’s planning team say the sanctuary is ‘visually intrusive’ and creates ‘significant harm’ to the character and appearance of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, now known as a National Landscape site.

There have also been complaints, over the years, about dogs barking and howling – although it is accepted that the centre, which provides a ‘forever home’ for the animals, is doing the best it can with limited resources.

The Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary had asked for retrospective planning consent for six buildings and an improved access to its site at Templemans Ash north of Bridport which it has been using since 2016.

The changes would have improved welfare conditions for the animals on the site replacing some ramshackled units with something more modern.

A planning agent for the sanctuary told Dorset Council that although the proposal would have seen an extension of the site to the west there would have been no increase in the number of animals.

The site is between Birdsmoorgate and Pilsdon Pen off the B3164 Marshwood to Broadwindsor road.

The Sanctuary was founded by Joy Keys in 2011 and formalised as a registered charity soon after that. It was set up “to care for dogs with severe behavioural issues and disabilities and rehabilitate them to enable them to enjoy their forever home within the sanctuary or occasionally, to go back out into the world with new skills.”

Broadwindsor Group Parish Council did not raise any formal objection to the planning request, but said that ‘quite a number’ of complaints about noise had been made over recent years.

One neighbour backed this with a statement saying they had made well over 50 complaints about howling and barking in the past six years although acknowledged that the centre had always tried to resolve the issues.

Upper Marshwood Parish Council said it had been unable to support the planning application and asked for a limit to be set for the maximum number of dogs on the site.

Dorset Council’s environmental health team said it recognised that refurbishing some of the buildings with the intention of removing less suitable structures would improve welfare standards, noise and insulation, and said that, irrespective of the planning issues, the intention is to reduce the number of dogs to no more than fifty by January 2030, not accepting any more until that number was reached.

Picture of existing buildings on the site Site location Ariel view – Google