A number of residents have contacted the Town Council regarding the BarkRun dog park operating off Beggarmans Lane.
“As a frequent user of Sandfield Wood I was upset regarding the closure of the well-used path, that goes from Beggarmans Lane through Sandfield Wood up to Bexton Hall, to enable the dog park to open” said Norbury Booths ward councillor Matthew Robertson.
Knutsford Town Council applied for a Public Right of Way (PROW) to be registered for this path in March 2019. Unfortunately, due to the time-consuming nature of the research and processing of public right of way applications and the limited resources within the relevant department at Cheshire East Council, it can take many years for PROW applications to be reviewed; this is common in PROW departments across the country and is not unique to Cheshire East. The application is currently number 31 out of 44 such applications Cheshire East Council is dealing with.
Local residents also submitted an application to register Sandfield Wood as a Village Green; if successful this would establish the rights of the local community to use the woodland for recreation. The Town Council has been pressing Cheshire East Council for a timescale on which this application will be considered.
From BarkRun’s website and social media, the Town Council is aware that the site will open on Saturday 25th September and operate from 7am to 7pm everyday.
Cllr Robertson added “From the moment I became aware of this I was immediately concerned about the impact this would have on this area of Knutsford. Not just because of the closure of the path which gives access to the countryside for many people but also the impact on Knutsford’s green belt, which as can be seen by the housing developments coming through, is always at risk from development.”
The Town Council has been in discussions with the Cheshire East Council Planning Enforcement Department to understand what is permissible on this green belt site. It has been confirmed that:
- The installed fencing is appropriate development within the green belt and on agricultural land and does not require planning permission
- If the land is changed in any way, for example if structures are erected or hardstanding created this would constitute a material change of use and require planning permission
- The site can be used as a dog park under permitted development for up to 56 days before the end of December
With the support of local residents, the Town Council is monitoring developments in the field and will continue to liaise with Cheshire East Council as to when action may be needed. This applies to the 56 day limit which the council will be monitoring to ensure proper process is taken.
Cllr Robertson added “I am generally in support of new businesses opening in Knutsford, but this has developed very quickly without engagement with the community. It is difficult to support a business which potentially downgrades the green belt, stops citizens access to the countryside and increases traffic on a residential road which leads to a primary school.
As a Norbury Booths councillor I will try to ensure that the impact of this on the community is minimalised and explore options to keep the path open. I would welcome discussions with the site owners to achieve this.”