Lorraine and Adrian Marshall, from Blackpool, had the cherished ‘catio’ set up last June at the front of their home after three of their beloved pets were tragically killed in road accidents on the street outside
Image: Blackpool Gazette/SWNS)
A furious couple who got 26,000 to support their outdoor cat enclosure to keep their pets safe have been told they may have to demolish it.
Lorraine and Adrian Marshall, from Blackpool, had the cherished ‘catio’ set up last June at the front of their home after three of their beloved pets were tragically killed in road accidents on the street outside.
The cat-loving couple first decided to take matters into their own hands after almost losing a fourth furry feline friend, Lancs Live reports.
The first, devastating road accident occurred in 2006, killing their cat, Charlie, while the second fatal incident occurred seven years ago, killing Alfie, 14. The third killed Phoebe, who died in October 2020 after bolting out in fright due to a firework being let off nearby.
But their beloved eldest cat, Winston, 21, miraculously survived being hit by a car four years ago after extensive medical treatment.
Lorraine Marshall/MEN MEDIA)
Describing the shock of having a third cat killed, Lorraine said: “One night in 2020, some local girls came knocking on the door and said, is this your cat? Phoebe was dead, blood everywhere, and what had happened, a firework had gone off, it was October, and she’d shot across the road and got hit by a car.
“Then we called the cats in and they were crying because they didn’t understand why they couldn’t go out any more.”
It was the tragic series of accidents which prompted the couple to provide a safe space outside for their cats to play inside last summer. Built by a landscape gardener in their front garden, the construction was inspired by Adrian’s visits to Blackpool adventure playground ‘Jungle Jim’s’ and designed to be similarly spacious, stimulating and relaxing for the ten cats.
The building, constructed out of chicken wire and wood, is not a permanent structure and it is designed to keep the cats safe, according to the couple, who emphasized that they consulted with neighbors prior to putting it up and that they had understood that it would not need planning permission.
They were then surprised to get a visit from a council planning officer in September 2021 when they were told to apply retrospective planning permission, but say they set up the petition after being told unofficially it was unlikely to be granted.
Now they say they have been devastated by a new council letter which highlights how the structure is ‘in breach of planning control.’ The letter, sent by a planning enforcement officer from Blackpool Council and seen by LancsLive, tells the couple: “The structure in question is still in situ, in breach of planning control and requires the appropriate action to either submit a retrospective planning application for planning permission, or for the structure to be repositioned in a more appropriate location, if this is possible.”
Suggested remedies include alternative locations, or alterations that would not require planning permission, with a request to meet with the couple to discuss the matter. However, Lorraine claims she was told verbally last September by the planning officer who she visited that they would not get planning permission and that the structure ‘would have to come down.’
Lorraine said: “When the council came in last September, we said, what if we make it shorter or smaller and they said no nothing we could do would make a difference.
“They said we will make some pictures and take some measurements and take it back to the planning department and they will make a decision as to whether you can apply for planning permission. We said well we’ll do that, and straightaway, he said , no you won’t get it.”
The ten beloved cats who benefit from the catio include 21 year old Winston, ten year old Molly, Ollie who is eight, Tony and Mia, who are both one, Freddie and Peanut, both six, and Kevin and Georgie, who are almost one , and Chester, who is one.
The couple says the enclosure is 250cm tall, dropping to 175cm on the slope, 352cm wide, and 340cm long, measuring 205cm long on one side because the difference can be classed as a porch.
She added: “We have ten cats in there, but they don’t live there all the time; it’s just going out there to play.
“It’s been up since June last year. We couldn’t keep them cooped up in the house all day long; it’s not fair on them because they need fresh air but they deserve to be safe.”
Lorraine, 43, who has severe anxiety and fibromyalgia, and husband Adrian, 61, who has heart disease, say that the cats are all they have. Lorraine said that her and Adrian’s health problems have flared up again since receiving the latest council letter due to stress.
She added: ““My husband is devastated; he went and lay in bed all day because he was so devastated because this is all we’ve got to keep them safe and you can’t stop them going out now, that is not possible, now that the weather is better. They’re out there all the time and they come back in at night time.
“Seven months later, we’ve had no correspondence, so why start again now several months later? I can’t go anywhere else, it’s not a permanent structure.
“If we have to go for planning permission, we will do that, if we have to lower it a few inches, we’ll lower it a few inches. But they’re saying it has to be relocated and there’s nowhere for it to be relocated; it’s not possible, and I just don’t see how it is hurting anyone.”
A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: “It is now six months since our initial contact with Mr and Mrs Marshall where we advised the structure they had built did not have planning permission. We understand that it is an upsetting situation so wanted to give them some time to consider their options. During this time we have received more complaints, as a result we have once again written to them and offered to meet on site to discuss a way forward.”