Red tape ‘putting pony sanctuary work at risk’

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A pony sanctuary is at risk of closure after council bureaucrats demanded it remove the stables it has had on-site for the past three years.

Two Oaks Pony Sanctuary in Northchurch houses two horses, 13 ponies, 70 chickens, two pigs and other animals.

Owner Carol Houlihan uses the Darr’s Lane base to look after pets that have been abandoned or mistreated. She helps poorly animals get back into good health and funds all of their supplies herself.

But now Dacorum Borough Council has served an enforcement notice against her.

She has two years to replace her pony stables with ones that fit in more appropriately with their Green Belt surroundings.

This will cost her about £40,000 – if she can’t find the money, some of her animals may have to be put to sleep.

Miss Houlihan said: “I am not doing anyone any harm. I am not here to make any money. It is a home for abandoned animals and saves the taxpayer money.”

She says if it wasn’t her looking after the animals, it would be down to government-funded rescue centres.

Her centre is also open to the public from 10am to noon every Saturday and Sunday.

Miss Houlihan said: “I think it’s nice for local children to come up and be a part of the countryside and mess about with animals and spend time with them.

“Wherever you take children nowadays costs a lot of money, but they can come up here, wander round and feed the animals, and it does not cost them anything.”

But council spokesman Madeleine Taggart-Smith said the stables have no planning permission and damage the Chilterns Green Belt.

She said: “Council officers have attempted working with the owner to resolve the situation without having to take formal action. These negotiations were unsuccessful and formal action was considered necessary.”