‘Flagship’ 5-star cattery in the doghouse

Michael and Sandie Cornell at their proposed cattery site
Michael and Sandie Cornell at their proposed cattery site

It was billed as a ‘flagship’ for a rundown area, a luxury cattery with underfloor heating and a ‘secret garden’ with animals and fish to keep its feline residents amused.

There would also be webcams so pet owners could keep an eye on the animals while they were away.

“We envisage it as a 5-star cattery,” said Michael Cornell, who sought to redevelop the rundown former RAF sports pavilion in Toft Newton.

Welton district councillor Malcolm Parish branded the plan as “spectacular” likening it to a “Hilton Hotel for cats.”

“It’s an ideal site, at the rear of an industrial area, a rundown former sports pavilion, It’s got to improve the area,” he told the Rasen Mail when the plan was submitted in May.

Despite working on the project for several years, after returning back to Lincolnshire from Spain, where they ran an animal refuge, Michael and Sandy Cornell have had their dreams shattered. Two years spent trying to meet council requirements for the £500,000 project have come to nothing.

An officers report says some neighbours opposed the project, fearing it would generate extra traffic down the narrow Masovian Lane. There was not the demand for such a cattery, they opposed the adjoining accommodation to be built for the owners and staff, and they doubted the business would create the 10-12 jobs in two years the Cornells claimed.

Planning officers appeared to agree, saying homes were available locally and the projected business employment appeared “overly optimistic.”

“It is considered that the development which is proposed in a remote and isolated area with no local facilities or amenities and which lacks any public transport provision would not meet the two of the three strands that together constitute sustainable development, namely the social and environmental component and would therefore run contrary to the principles of sustainable development as required by the National Planning Policy framework,” their report concluded.

Now, West Lindsey District Council has refused the application, saying the couple can appeal. But Michael says he doesn’t know what to do next.

“We have to get more information,” he said.