New dog walking field at Exeter is given the go-ahead despite concerns over traffic

Concerns have been raised about traffic levels and motorists using narrow lanes to access a new dog walking field near Exeter.

Dog walkers will be able to exercise their pets in a purpose-built compound to the west of Exeter after council planners gave a scheme the go-ahead, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

But local villagers say the amount of traffic the new dog-walking site will generate is unacceptable.

Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee agreed the plan to change an agricultural field off Idestone Lane, at Ide, near Exeter, into a dog-walking field for private hire.

Owners will be able to book half-hour sessions at the field, with only one owner allowed with a maximum of four dogs at a time.

The field contains its own scheduled monument – a Roman signal station where a coin and pottery were found – but this will be protected by sturdy fences.

Ide Parish Council objected to the plan, and opponent James Studholme said there had been 31 other individual objections. He said that while Devon County Council’s highways experts had raised no issues over the use of the narrow lane leading to the field, he knew of a number of car accidents that had happened there.

“Even a small number of extra cars would produce a disproportionate impact,” he said. ”There is no need or call from the local community for such a private rented facility. The clientele will come from afar, and by car.”

Cllr John Parrott (Lib Dem, Kenn Valley) said the strength of local feeling should not be overlooked. And he said he was concerned that allowing agricultural land to be repurposed for commercial use would set a dangerous precedent.

“I’m a dog owner,” he said. “In principle I am very supportive of dog walking sites, but they have got to be in the right location and I genuinely don’t believe this site is the right location.”

But Cllr Parrot’s bid to have the plan thrown out was lost, and the committee gave it the go-ahead by a five-vote majority.

Cllr Janet Bradford (SD Alliance, College) said such dog parks were desperately needed. “Some dogs are much better walked on their own, or with dogs that they know.”

And Cllr Stephen Purser (Con, Teign Valley) added: “Because of Covid a lot of people have dogs which are not socialised or haven’t met other dogs.

“Walking them around open public spaces can be traumatic. Places like this are essential for dogs to get the exercise they need in a secure environment.

“I know the lane is narrow, but we live in Devon. There are a lot of narrow lanes.”

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