Dog training: Bridgend planning application affects a path

Bridgend council have their work cut out to prevent some of their quiet paths and open spaces losing their attractions and becoming unnerving for people to use and difficult to access.  Although outside the county borough for which I represent Open Spaces Society, I was asked to check the effects of a planning application near Blackmill north of Bridgend.

The application is the latest by a dog training group, Malpeet, who have advertised that they give dogs a “last chance” to retrain as security, or drug or explosive detection dogs.  The centre is at the apex of a long lane looping off the main road from Tonyrefail to Blackmill, uphill and behind the house fronting the stream, Nant Iechyd, that flows through Cwm Dimbath.

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Dimbath Lane is narrow and, like many lanes, not brilliantly maintained: it is fine for the recreational users it attracts, cyclists, horse-riders, walkers including family groups or adventurous children. There is a ford by the entrance to the proposed dog training: it is  picturesque, even in the rain with a cutting east wind.

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Off the lane are several tracks and footpaths, and Bridgend’s Footpath 8 runs through land belonging to the proposed dog training centre – it is, in fact already operating and has been refused: this is a “new” application.

Using online maps, I can see the forest track to the left of the stream, and the FP 8 is to the right.  An immediate problem is that the forestry track has an entry through a stile and clear line, but FP 8 is not marked at all.

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There are traces, and Malpeet have put up signs suggesting that dogs are not trained on the land the path crosses, so that the public should not meet dogs in training along either side of the stream.

???????????????????????????????A private track is marked and there will be dogs there, but the right of way is being obscured.  Will the dogs further deter people?

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We drove on through the ford and met no traffic before the main road.  Cwm Dimbath, with an SSSI and climbs, leads into Ogmore Forest and FP 8 is the only right of way going northwards and linking into the paths in the forest. I am not convinced that the fencing and notices will give people confidence to use the path.  The dog handlers I’ve seen tend to be shaven-headed and like TV heavies, and might not enhance enjoyment for many.  What with extra traffic to and fro, and explosions and exercises all day and night the proposed dog centre would certainly change the area’s character.

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9 Responses to Dog training: Bridgend planning application affects a path

  1. bi1967 says:

    No doubt the people and what they do there has its merits as a Business, but just the very fact that there’s so many caution/warning signs posted throughout that site speak volumes that there are plenty of risks involved with what they do there…
    It’s a definite warning for anyone that wants to enjoy the public spaces there, and more than enough to make anyone think twice about any dangers and or even deter people from using the public tracks near there.
    It’s not in keeping with what’s normally seen in the open countryside and definitely not a suitable business location being its so close to such a well used Public space.
    If like me anyone travelling down towards the Dimbath from Ogmore vale on any of the two public paths won’t get any warning about the dogs/training/risks involved whilst passing there and could get a big surprise at best.
    The very fact that the business started up there without proper planning permission and still continues trade there even-though planning
    permission has been refused once before speaks volumes about how they might consider the safety of others that live nearby or regularly use that area.
    Why not keep special public spaces like this enjoyable, safe and healthy places for everyone to enjoy, surely there’s lots of other safe and legal location available for companies like this to trade from.

    Like

  2. Alex says:

    I doubt what I have to say will meet favour, but, never the less, I’d like to sat my piece.
    The comments here are all right with the information you have, and your concerns are understandable. I think there is an easier way to getting to the bottom of it all. I think if the owner was approached, and you all went together, by appointment, to see the old farm house, and what goes on there, you’ll have a bit of an eye opener.
    When you next get on a flight, and arrive safely at your destination, you can thank companies, and security dogs trained in places like this, for getting there in one piece. When masses of drugs, and illegal immigrants stowed on trucks are stopped, and prevented from getting into the UK, then you can thank them likewise.
    If you have seen guns (I don’t believe any of them are AK47’s however, they look more like M4 / M16’s) then they are not real, or replicas, or deactivated. They are no more than toy guns to assist with the training. As the students appear to be former service people, who have served their country, for your and my safety, I am sure you are more than safe.
    The loud bangs – you may be confusing the occasional shotgun fire from the farms. Dogs barking, again, sheep dogs and a neighbouring farm seem to have quite a few dogs, all barking. Quite unlike this training place, where the dogs appear to be trained not to bark, but to sit down when they detect something.
    There are enclosed spaces, paddocks and a large fenced area for dogs, and from what I’ve seen, when the dogs aren’t in these, they are on leads.
    Have any of you actually been there to speak to the owner? I did just that, and found out precisely what was going on. It is a professional organisation, an interesting operation, and frankly does no harm to the environment whatsoever. I should much rather this, than a colony of ravers every weekend, which this so clearly would deter! I only live about a mile away. Wish I had the money to go on a course!

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    • ossjay says:

      Thank you for making the point that some of these dogs will be doing public service (others will be private or VIP security), whether one likes the dogs or security people or not. The question is whether this place meets planning criteria including the effects on a right of way. So far, it has been refused by Bridgend.
      Open Spaces Society protects public rights of way: planning criteria are concerns over the enjoyment of both Dimbath Lane and Footpath 8, which is affected by the proposed change of use.
      When using any right of way on a Definitive Map like Footpath 8, there is no requirement that a member of the public contact a landowner or receive a guided tour, and landowners have to allow access. As you acknowledge, the training centre “clearly would deter” users who you don’t like, but it also deters many who you would like. If it deters the public, it is in the wrong place.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ossjay says:

    Sorry – this response was meant to go after other comments!
    Thank you for adding more local knowledge of the area – I hope you have also told Bridgend CBC because it is a serious matter to deter the public from using rights of way.
    You can also send in a form like this about an obstruction (which includes the path getting overgrown), and the council MUST respond (their website is positive about that too):
    SCHEDULE
    FORM 1
    NOTICE OF REQUEST TO LOCAL HIGHWAY AUTHORITY TO SECURE THE REMOVAL OF AN ALLEGED OBSTRUCTION
    HIGHWAYS ACT 1980 SECTION 130A(1)
    To Chief Executive
    of Bridgend County Borough Council,Civic Offices, Angel Street, Bridgend, CF31 4WB

    I (name)

    of (address)

    hereby request that you secure the removal of the obstruction described below.
    Status of the highway [write “Footpath”, “Bridleway”, “Restricted Byway”, “Byway Open to All Traffic”, or “Not sure”]
    Location of the highway and of the obstruction:

    Description of the obstruction:

    The date I encountered the obstruction was [enter date]:
    It appears to me that the following may be responsible for the obstruction (if unknown, write “unknown”):

    Name 1:

    Address 1:

    Name 2:

    Address 2:

    Signed Date

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  4. I visited this wood with CCW staff in October 2012, it’s common land.
    Here’s my note of the visit.
    Woodland common on both sides of Afon Ogwr valley, 6km north of Bridgend. Alt y Rhiw on eastern side. Common rights to take branches off the trees, and so branches have been lopped leaving trees with strange shapes. The area has been fenced and grazing removed 10 years ago (in agreement with Coity Wallia commoners. Where light has come in young oaks are growing and getting away, which is leading to a gradual increase in age range. Ground flora is Vaccinium.

    Craig Tal-y-Fan on western side, commoners won’t agree to remove sheep, so even if light gets in the sheep eat the young oaks and they don’t get away. Ideally the wood would be fenced and grazing excluded.

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  5. lindakasmaty says:

    Yes, Rachel’s comments put a different outlook on things. Dodgey dogs probably not a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rachel Hurdley says:

    Yes I agree that the footpath should be clearly identified, and the training centre be refused again. I don’t buy the idea of dogs being trained In ‘last chance’ careers. If they haven’t shown aptitude already, they won’t now. Am concerned this is a dodgy set up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ossjay says:

      Of course, the aptitude they are looking for might not be one that endears dogs as pets. It made me think about where such working dogs should be trained. I don’t agree that rights of way or open access land should be compromised.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bi1967 says:

        I grew up in that area and access to the Dimbath forest walks have become more and more difficult and overgrown ever-since a new land owner started to commercially develop the Farm and purposely deter visitors there.
        I’m aware of multiple retrospective planning applications and a couple of WAG appeals thats happened there and the owners obviously show great disregard to the Bridgend County Borough planning authority rules.
        When I’m up there on my bike I’ve noticed the vast signage and have seen vans full of trainees passing to the new security guard training business, and yes it’s all very intimidating and looks totally wrong for the area, Ive also seen pictures of them dressed in full military uniform and having replica? AK47 guns for some of there close protection/military courses… Not something that you would like to see when out for the day with your Wife and Children… And who’s to know that those guns are replicas?
        Very concerned about general safety and eventual loss of access to that beautiful area.

        Liked by 1 person

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