Exotic animal business vows to carry on despite setback from Fenland planners

PUBLISHED: 14:24 07 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:24 07 August 2017

A meerkat from Exotic Animal Encounters, Whittlesey PHOTO: Exotic Animal Encounter

A meerkat from Exotic Animal Encounters, Whittlesey PHOTO: Exotic Animal Encounter

Archant

A couple who run a business giving wildlife talks to schools and children’s parties has vowed to carry on despite being refused permission to keep their growing collection of animals at their parents farm.

Sirius the raven from Exotic Animal Encounters, Whittlesey PHOTO: Exotic Animal EncountersSirius the raven from Exotic Animal Encounters, Whittlesey PHOTO: Exotic Animal Encounters

Kelly and Matthew Bates say that while their application churned through the planning process, the land went from a flood zone two to three which they believe was the final tipping point for not getting permission.

Phobia busting sessions with Exotic Animal EncountersPhobia busting sessions with Exotic Animal Encounters

Kelly, of Whittlesey, who runs Exotic Animal Encounters, said local flood defences have just been upgraded and : “After spending £10 million pound of tax payers money we are now at more risk, how?

Exotic Animal Encounters - one of their babiesExotic Animal Encounters - one of their babies

“I’m absolutely dumbfounded, it was only a static caravan and the worse thing is I’ll probably have an order telling me to remove the statics within 14 days when I next go there.

A mongoose from  Exotic Animal Encounter Whittlesey PHOTO: Exotic Animal EncounterA mongoose from Exotic Animal Encounter Whittlesey PHOTO: Exotic Animal Encounter

“My house and garden is big enough for the animals we have but I’d like to give them more space and be able to expand my business but I won’t be able to now.

“I can’t sell my house until my animals are out - who will want to buy a house with snakes and tarantulas in the house or skunks in the garden? I just feel stuck.”

The couple lost a planning appeal to use Kelly’s parent’s farmland to house animals and a static caravan for them and their two children between March and Whittlesey.

“We go to schools and various other places all over the country and teach children about animals, about loving them, not being scared of them and looking after them and their habitats.

“We started this venture about five years ago, my parents keep birds of prey and have been teaching with them for 35 years, my love of birds and animals spiralled from there, teaching and sharing my passion for these animals was always going to be the thing I needed to do.

“We didn’t want to become millionaires, we don’t want to develop the land and whack 20 new homes in there, we just needed some help.”

Ian Radcliffe, Government inspector, said the development would be in an isolated location within open countryside.

“There is no explanation of why a dwelling with a large garden in a settlement could not provide sufficient space of expansion of the business. I am not persuaded that it has been shown that it is an established viable and financially sound business,” he said.

He refused it on the grounds of being contrary to the “spatial strategy.”

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