Petition launched to save Westwoods Dog Park after owner given less than three weeks to vacate site

The lease is not being renewed for Westwoods Dog Park

The owner of a popular dog park business at Westwood says she has been given less than three weeks notice to vacate the site.

Westwoods Dog Park was opened in April this year at Westwood’s retail site by mum-of-three Maxine Hughes under her business Royal Hounds.

Maxine already runs a successful dog park in Meopham and started a dog walking service after moving to Broadstairs three years ago which expanded to include the Westwoods venue this year.

The park, on land that was previously a petrol station before being demolished and relocated with Sainsbury’s, offers a safe and secure environment for dog owners and dog walking businesses to use and includes a woodland area, toys, seating areas, sensory area and shelters.

The land is owned by Land Securities and managed by Westwood Cross with assistance from Space and People which matches businesses to available commercial areas.

But at the end of last week Maxine received the devastating news that her short-term lease for the site would not be renewed when it expires on January 7.

Maxine said: “This has come as a big surprise. At first there was a three month lease, then a six month lease. I was told it would be a short-term lease in case any development came into place but they said there was nothing in the pipeline and the land had been empty for years so I was led to believe, verbally, that the lease would continue to be renewed.

“When I first went in I provided a business plan and drawings of what would be going in the park. It took eight or nine months to get that all agreed.”

Maxine says she was initially told she would not need planning permission because she would be covered by the landowner’s licence. However, in June she received communication from Thanet council saying the landowner needed to provide a letter explaining why the land was not being used for commercial development.

A part-retrospective planning application was lodged but then, in October, permission was refused.

A report from a planning officer said: “The proposed development would result in the loss of an area defined as primary frontage and safeguarded for main town centre uses resulting in significant harm to the provision of space for main town centre uses and the formation of a cohesive town centre.”

Maxine said: “They said head office was dealing with the council and not to worry about the business being closed.

“Then last Thursday I got a phone call, followed by an email on Friday, saying they were not increasing my lease and that there are potential development plans starting [at the site] in January. I just feel there is something more going on that I don’t know about.”

Maxine says she has spent considerable time and money, including £1000 on shelters, because she believed the licence would be renewed.

The park caters for up to six dogs at a time and is used by families as well as owners of service dogs, reactive dogs and for puppy training. It has proved so popular that Maxine had been working on plans for an overflow site on a green plot of land in Chestnut Drive, Broadstairs which was previously sold at auction by Taylor Wimpey.

Now she faces emptying the site, which will mean the removal by a waste contractor of tyres and the shifting of shelters, 30 bales of straw, agility equipment, fencing and more.

Maxine runs a number of services as Royal Hounds

The nan-of-four said: “It is a lot to cope with at this time of year, giving me such short notice when they must have known about their plans before. I was told they needed an exit plan by this week so they could deal with it before Christmas, well they have ruined my Christmas. I gave them a sentence, that’s all I had time for.

“I moved to Broadstairs for a peaceful life and that’s how I started doing the dog walking. It has been lovely, I love what I do and what I provide for people. To know I do something that is needed is really nice. I knew there would be a backlash from people.”

Currently January 2 is earmarked as the last day of business at Westwoods Dog Park. However Spaces and People are looking for another site that could be used if necessary.

A petition launched last night [December 18] appealing for support to keep the park open has already gained more than 1200 signatures.

A spokesperson from Westwood Cross said: “We agreed a short-term licence with the owner of Westwood Dog Park, which is due to expire early in the new year. This cannot be extended due to works that need to take place on the land.

“Westwood Dog Park has been a fantastic space for the community and we’re actively exploring options for its nearby relocation. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

Find the petition here

11 Comments

  1. This is absolutely DIABOLICAL behaviour by the powers that be. We so need a secure dog field in Thanet where we can take dogs on their own without fear of another invading that space if we need to. All that time, effort & money for you to have this thrown at you, let alone the week before Christmas & such short notice.

  2. Farcical……what’s all that nonsense about ‘preserving the main town frontage for commercial development ‘???? The whole of Westwood Cross are vast spaces of land , never used vacant lots. This lady has a growing business and the best of luck to her. Ridiculous nonsense from Thanet and Westcross management.

  3. Wow it could only come from TDC The proposed development would result in the loss of an area defined as primary frontage and safeguarded for main town centre uses resulting in significant harm to the provision of space for main town centre uses and the formation of a cohesive town centre.” Perhaps you should speak to Councillor Steve Albon. A hidden away bit of space that you would miss if you blinked, and since when did Westwood Cross become a town centre. More like April fools day than Christmas.

    • I’ve said it time & time again, the loss of our High streets & empty commercial buildings being turned into residential, along with all the new builds going up in & around westwood cross & various other pockets of land around Thanet, Westwood cross will become Thanets town centre…. CORRUPTION AT ITS FINEST.😡

      • Many years ago TDC,stated they wanted Westwood Cross to be the new town centre of Thanet.This was at around the point planning permission for WWX ,was given .Does anybody else remember this statement

        • Wow just wow…… Sod all the people that can’t get there, don’t want to go there or simply like the comfort of their own High streets. What is the point of all the ‘Shop local’ or ‘fiver feats’ to promote our High streets if TDC couldn’t give a damn anyway. The whole ‘corporation’ needs holding account & a total overhaul of TDC is desperately needed.

          • It’s not just in Thanet that there are problems with town centres. It’s happening all over the country, whenever an out-of-town shopping mall opens.

            What I’m curious about is the terms of the lease. Presumably the Dog Park Owners knew they were on a short lease, subject to a very short notice period?

          • Really all that’s left to move to WWX,is some private offices and the council ,to move their offices there and hey Presto .A town centre

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