“If it were to be removed, it would be devastating,” says the family.
A campaign to save a couple’s outdoor cat enclosure has gathered thousands of supporters after they were told it may have to be demolished.
Blackpool couple Lorraine and Adrian Marshall had the cherished ‘catio’ set up in June at the front of their home in Pedder’s Lane after three of their beloved cats were tragically killed in road accidents on the street outside their home.
However, the couple say they were left ‘devastated’ after being told it may now have to be dismantled following a visit from a planning enforcement officer from Blackpool Council who told them last week that there had been a complaint from a neighbour.
Lorraine’s brother, Gary Davies, 37, says having to pull it down would leave the cat loving couple ‘absolutely heartbroken’ and has helped a campaign to save it.
He said: “The council just turned out one day out of the blue and said, it goes against our planning regulations, and you have to take it down.”
Gary said the couple asked what the problem was with it, and were reportedly told they they would be informed in writing and could apply for planning permission, but it “may be rejected.”
The couple first decided to take matters into their own hands after losing three of their treasured creatures to road accidents on the busy road outside their home, and almost losing a fourth.
The first tragic road accident occurred in 2006 and killed their cat, Charlie, while the second incident occurred seven years ago, killing Alfie, 14, and the third killed, Phoebe, who died only last October after bolting out in fright due to a firework being let off nearby.
A fourth cat, Winston, 20, miraculously survived being hit by a car four years ago after extensive medical treatment.
Gary said: “It’s a very busy road and a lot of horses and carts come down there from the promenade. It’s not a major road, but it’s a wide road and is a bit of a rat run, and it’s also 30 miles per hour, which is unusual because there is a school at the end of the road.
“At the end of the day, it’s a very busy street and the cats’ lives would be in danger. They have lost three cats which is proof enough of that, and almost lost a fourth.”
The edifice, constructed out of chicken wire and wood, is not a permanent structure and it is designed to keep the cats safe, says Gary.
Adrian, 60, who previously ran two post offices in Blackpool, had the idea of having a space built with a similar design to ‘Jungle Jim’s’ adventure playground at Blackpool Tower, where he enjoyed a visit with his children when they were younger
Gary added: “ It’s like a play area. There’s a wooden bridge in place for the cats, a place for them to sit and chill out, and there are also little beds in there.
“The cats absolutely love it out there – they spend all day out there, from morning to midnight, and they don’t want to come in at night. It’s completely safe for them.
“They eat chicken every day, tuna three times a week, and they get biscuits and treats. They have to be bribed to come in at night because they are so very happy out there.”
Demolition of their structure would come as a major blow to the couple, who have been shielding since the start of the pandemic, with mum Lorraine, 42, suffering from fibromyalgia and Adrian, 60, having had a major heart attack a few years ago.
Gary said: “Without clarity from the council, we don’t know if it could be adjusted somehow to comply. If it were to be removed, it would be devastating. Lorraine is terrified to let the cats roam on the street, so she would have to try and keep them in which would not be an easy task with ten cats, and just not fair on them.
“Most people would say if weren’t looking for it, you’d miss it over the garden fence.
“It feels like a kick in the teeth from the council, to be told to take it down without a reason. It’s not a permanent structure – it’s just made of wood and chicken wire, and there are no foundations or brickwork, so they assumed it would be fine. It’s the same as a garden shed; it doesn’t block any light out.
“They would be absolutely devastated if they had to take it down.”
A spokesperson for Blackpool Council said: “We have visited and spoken to Mr and Mrs Marshall. We advised that the structure built in the front garden does require planning permission and this can be applied for retrospectively.
“We have also said that we would be happy to meet the owners again at the property to see if there is a suitable alternative.”
A petition to save the Pedders Lane Catio has gathered more than 2000 signatures. To sign, click here.