Decision to be made on future of greyhound kennels built without permission

A photo of the Grain Barn which is home to 50 dogs from the Noise Assessment, and a picture of two dogs in their outdoor run from the Appellant's appeal
A photo of the Grain Barn which is home to 50 dogs from the Noise Assessment, and a picture of two dogs in their outdoor run from the Appellant's appeal

Dog kennels used to house greyhounds that race at Swindon's Abbey Stadium are awaiting their fate following an appeal to Wiltshire Council.

Professional greyhound trainer Mr D Porter built the kennels at The Grain Barn, The Hillocks, Lyneham without permission, and a subsequent retrospective planning application was refused.

He wanted to change the use of the site from a grain store to kennels for 50 greyhounds, provision a portaloo, two storage containers and four outside dog runs that can house a maximum of 8 dogs at a time, but this was denied in July 2021.

Swindon Advertiser: The Grain Barn site Photo: From the Appellant's appeal
Swindon Advertiser: The Grain Barn site Photo: From the Appellant's appeal

The Grain Barn site Photo: From the Appellant's appeal

This refusal was then appealed in December 2021, and in August this year, Mr Porter made his final representations arguing that the facility should be allowed to remain how it is now.

If he is refused again, Greyhound Board of Great Britain rules dictate that he will no longer be allowed to operate as a licensed greyhound trainer, as he won't have premises to keep them.

In the decision note, the council said there were three reasons why the application was refused.

It argued the change of the building from rural use to a kennels, and increased traffic as a result, was not in keeping with the council's countryside strategy.

Secondly, concerns remained over the safety of the dogs being left unattended in an unsecured location presenting a risk of theft, and that to mitigate that it was likely that further applications for dwellings would be made, which the council felt was not acceptable.

Finally, the council argued that the presence of 50 dogs, which were mostly being kept inside all day, could cause a noise nuisance for neighbours.

Swindon Advertiser: Two of the greyhounds outside which was considered in the noise assessment report
Swindon Advertiser: Two of the greyhounds outside which was considered in the noise assessment report

Two of the greyhounds outside which was considered in the noise assessment report

121 representations had been sent in objecting to the retrospective planning application, many of which highlighted concerns around the welfare of the animals with the perception being that the building, which allegedly lacked lighting, ventilation, and temperature control, wasn’t suitable for housing 50 dogs.

One resident described the barking of the greyhounds there as ‘life altering’.

They said: “The noise has been unbearable at times and the howling of dogs at night or early morning is the most disturbing noise.

"There is something in the human psyche that sets off a sense of alarm when a dog barks or howls. It is different from traffic or air traffic. The sound of dogs howling, and barking forbids sleep.”

Mr Porter's appeal, via RCC Town Planning Consultancy, has argued against these points, suggesting that a kennel was a suitable use of the property, that the council’s concern about further planning applications was not relevant and that a noise assessment showed that mitigations could be made to combat the noise issue.

The importance of Mr Porter's business to the greyhound racing industry in Swindon was also highlighted as was the potential that another refusal would ‘leave 50 dogs without a permanent home.'

Responding to the appeal, Wiltshire Council said that all three grounds for refusal should still be upheld by the planning inspectorate.

Swindon Advertiser: The Grain Barn structure which is home to 50 dogs for most of the day
Swindon Advertiser: The Grain Barn structure which is home to 50 dogs for most of the day

The Grain Barn structure which is home to 50 dogs for most of the day

It had initially decided that the noise level issue had been overcome but after written representations revealed further evidence, the council ruled that assumptions made in the noise assessment ‘were erroneous’ and ‘lacked foundation’ so it changed its stance.

A deadline for the decision has not yet been set by the planning inspectorate.

A spokesperson for the Greyhound Board of Great Britain said: "As we await the conclusion of Mr Porter’s appeal process, we are closely monitoring the situation and will take steps to ensure no greyhound’s welfare or care is compromised by the outcome of this, in line with our usual regulatory processes.”