A cat loving couple, Mr and Mrs Haworth, in Marsden, Yorkshire, UK, a large Village within the Borough of Kirklees, built a catio in their front yard. It occupies almost all of their front garden. They did not seek planning permission before constructing it. They have 4 rescue cats using the catio so the purpose behind its construction is an improvement in animal welfare.
The next-door neighbour does not have a problem with their catio. He made this clear in writing on the change.org website. However other neighbours in the long line of terraced houses on the street have complained to the local authority. As a consequence the council has refused to grant retrospective planning permission.
Subsequently, a petition was started up on change.org, which at the time of writing this has attained 5,000 signatures which meets their goal.
The Haworths appealed to Jackson Galaxy who has 2 million followers on Facebook and is very well known in America and abroad. It appears that he promoted the petition and since that moment, after a slow start, it took off.
“Since then it has gone ballistic. The villagers really got behind us and Felix the Station Cat shared it too. There are a lot of cat lovers out there. We are both overwhelmed. I don’t know if it’s going to make a difference. We haven’t had anything from the council to say that we have to take the catio down but we have 12 weeks to appeal. Obviously we are doing everything we can to keep it. Our frustration is that planning departments with councils should work with you to find a solution but no one has been to seriously accept an enforcer.” – Mrs Haworth
Comment: I think the problem here is that the cat enclosure is at the front of the house and occupying almost all the front garden. This changes the character of the terrace. The council says it creates a blind spot for traffic but this appears to be an exaggeration. As 20 neighbours have objected, it is probably quite difficult to appeal successfully. On the upside it is of course a construction which helps with cat welfare which is very welcome so this is a balanced situation and the outcome is unknown. It is also very nice that Jackson Galaxy intervened which tells us that he his an international cat whispering star!