PLANS for a secure dog walking area in a Cornish town will include regulations to allow owners of banned XL bully dogs to exercise them safely.

Jessica Daw, a local farmer, has applied to Cornwall Council to turn a field near Piggy Lane car park in Wadebridge into a dog walking area complete with parking.

The government has added the American bully XL, known as an XL bully, to the list of banned dangerous dogs. It’s now illegal to breed, sell, advertise, exchange, gift, rehome, abandon or allow XL bully type dogs to stray in England and Wales. Owners should also have a certificate of exemption from the government and comply with additional restrictions including keeping them on a lead and muzzled in public, having them neutered and having third party liability insurance.

As part of a planning statement for her proposals, Mrs Daw says: “Following the recent country-wide ban on XL bully dogs which came into force on December 31, 2023 and states that these dogs can only be exercised in a secure place, many dog owners have found themselves in an impossible situation whereby they cannot legally exercise their dogs safely. In setting up this secure meadow, we will ensure that we comply with all regulations so that this can be used confidently and safely by owners of this breed.”

Two in four deadly dog attacks in the UK in 2021 involved the XL bully breed – rising to six in ten in 2022, with a recent high-profile case in London when grandmother Esther Martin was mauled to death by two suspected XL bully dogs.

Mrs Daw was inspired to set up a secure dog walking area after reading about the need for one in the Wadebridge area.

She said: “Recently, we have read some comments on social media which included dog owners in Wadebridge searching for a local and secure space to exercise their dog. This inspired us to consider the options and land that we had available to us and how this could be utilised to provide what so many people are looking for.

“Following some market research on the numbers of people who may want to use this type of service, the response was overwhelmingly positive from the local community. We are confident that this idea will provide a valuable resource and service for the town of Wadebridge and prevent the travel that so many dog owners are currently resorting to.”

Comments she received from local residents include:

“Oh, yes, please! As a disabled person with three small rescues (one highly reactive and terrified of everything) this would be a lifeline for me.”

“What a great idea, it will be perfect for our greyhounds.”

“This will be a very welcome addition to our town.”

She said there were other benefits to the facility. “We feel that, should this application be successful, this will support local farmers – ourselves included – who are experiencing challenges with local dog walkers. Furthermore, it will provide a facility for those who ordinarily need to employ a professional dog walker and will even support local dog walkers and trainers in growing their own businesses by providing much needed secure facilities and space.”

The potential field is located within a short walking distance of town, just along Piggy Lane. Mrs Daw added: “This means that many users can walk to and from the meadow, minimising the environmental impact and carbon footprint of many. For those that drive, we plan to have parking for two cars at a time and a larger space for disabled users. These will all be within the secure fencing of the field. To ensure that access to the meadow is seamless and safe, we plan for a large turning area within the field to enable cars to manoeuvre in and out with ease.

“As avid countryside users, we are passionate about retaining the biodiversity of this field. We plan to erect the fencing inside of the hedge area, ensuring that the biodiversity of the natural hedgerow, alongside the existing flora and fauna, is not affected by the planned change of use. This will ensure that dogs are not able to enter hedge areas and disturb the wildlife that resides there.”

The applicant also plans to plant further trees and shrubs within the area, install deer fencing and a 6ft fence which will ensure that dogs cannot leave the enclosed area.

“In conclusion, the look of the field will not alter dramatically at all. In an area that is enjoyed by many, we plan to retain the natural beauty of the landscape. We feel that this addition to the town is welcome and will be embraced, enjoyed and used by many,” said Mrs Daw.

You can read more about the planning application, PA24/00965, here.