I have done nothing illegal, says dog trainer in planning fight

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A man who wants to run a gun dog training and grooming business in Boxford will appear at a planning appeal next week.

Paul Sims, who owns Simbo’s Gun Dogs and Grooming, has been trying to get planning permission to change stables sited on the land he leases in Stone Street into dog kennels.

He also wants to build a log cabin on the site as part of the business.

But after submitting two planning applications, he is appealing against a council’s refusal to grant him permission earlier this year.

Local residents have voiced opposition to the business and residential use of the land and have been angered by the continued use of the site, despite the ruling by members of Babergh District Council’s development committee.

But Mr Sims claims he had done nothing illegal.

“I pay my business rates, council tax and waste licence,” he said. “As far as I am concerned, I have done nothing illegal.”

Mr Sims said he had followed council advice to go ahead and use the site, and apply for retrospective planning permission.

He added that the council had tried to help find him an alternative site to the one in Boxford, but none of the six sites available, including land in Ballingdon and Preston St Mary, were suitable because they were close to housing estates and main roads.

Commenting on opposition to his plans, he claimed many residents had resorted to not speaking to him.

“I wouldn’t treat my worst enemy the way I have been treated by some people around here,” said Mr Sims, who has 30 years’ experience in training dogs.

“People accuse me of being aggressive, but that is not the case. I would like things settled amicably.”

The hearing is being held at Babergh District Council’s offices in Hadleigh on Wednesday morning and will be heard by a planning inspector.

The appeal is against the refusal of planning permission for a change of use of existing stables and land to dog kennels and grounds for the purpose of training, breeding and grooming.

The plans also include building an additional kennel block and a residential log cabin to be occupied in association with the business at land adjoining Thatch End in Stone Street.

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said this week: “The hearing is an informal hearing, which means that the inspector will usually set out the agenda at the start of the procedure rather than a pre-set agenda being circulated beforehand.

“The council and the appellant have already sent their statements to the inspectorate and I believe there are also a number of residents who have sent comments directly to the inspectorate and who may attend the hearing.”