They re homed 232 dogs last year - but a Coleraine dog charity remains without permanent home.
Causeway Coast Dog Rescue has been working in the Coleraine area for the past ten years.
One year ago they submitted a planning application for a permanent home in Castleroe - despite various phone calls and meetings, the application has never reached a council meeting for decision.
On Friday, volunteers Maggie Dimsdale-Bobby and Joleen Riley told The Times that they were ‘at the end of their tether’ with planners.
Despite having no permanent home, the charity continues to re home dogs, taking in unwanted dogs from Ballymoney Council pound, Derry City Council pound, the Dogs Trust and from members of the public.
“Thankfully I have a band of volunteers who foster unwanted dogs until we can re home them,” explained Maggie.
“Unfortunately we don’t have room for all dogs, and at the minute we are paying for kennelling - we are a charity, so we really can’t afford to be doing this.”
Plans for the charity’s new rescue centre at Camus Lane were submitted on March 15, 2013 - one year on and the application is still in the system. Impact assessments have been completed and it was hoped that the application would appear in the planning schedule last month.
“We had expected to be in our new home last summer, we’re a year on now, and we’re no further forward.
“I understand that there have been some issues with noise, and that tests had to be carried out, but I still don’t understand what the delay is,” said Maggie, who has been re homing dogs for over 30 years.
“Businesses have come forward to sponsor us, and we have been contacted about grants for our new home - we really didn’t think that things would take so long. It is not an ideal situation for people to be fostering these dogs, but we do it because we know these dogs have no where else to go, and as volunteers we all find it very rewarding to see a wee dog finding a new home.”
DUP councillor George Duddy who has been campaigning for the application to be pushed forward added: “Considering the provision that Maggie and her team give to the community, it is very frustrating for them that this application has been pushed forward a lot quicker.
“This new facility would benefit the whole community - the work this group does throughout the Province shouldn’t be underestimated.”
We contacted DoE for a response, they said: “DOE Planning received an application for a proposed change of use from outbuildings to a dog rescue centre in March 2013. The site is located in the open countryside to the east of Coleraine and the proposal involves the reuse of redundant farm buildings.
“Several objections were received raising issues including noise and traffic. As the proposal is in the vicinity of dwelling houses and the tendency of dogs to bark, Environmental Health at Coleraine Borough Council recommended the submission of a noise assessment study in June. This was received some months later in October. Since that time the applicant, Environmental Health and DOE Planning have been in detailed negotiations to resolve the issues to make progress.
“When the Department received amended plans last month showing measures to mitigate noise, neighbours were re-notified. This re-notification raised an important issue regarding the access and DOE Planning is seeking to resolve this issue with the applicant as quickly as possible. Once that issue has been addressed, the application can be further progressed and an opinion presented to Coleraine Borough Council.”