Controversial plans to relocate the Pendle Forest and Craven Hunt harrier hounds to Bell Busk look likely to be approved by Craven District Council.

Members of the planning committee said they could see no valid reason to refuse the plans and voted against officer recommendation.

The application, from Michael Bannister, a master of the hunt for more than 30 years and owner of the Coniston Hotel at Coniston Cold, was for the development of buildings at Wheelwright Farm, to the north of Coniston Cold and Bell Busk. The scheme sought to convert redundant stables to huntmaster’s accommodation and the change of use of an agricultural building to house the hunt’s 60 harrier hounds.

Mr Bannister said the reason for the move was that notice had been given to vacate the hounds’ present accommodation at Ellenthorpe, Gisburn.

While he had negotiated a further three months until they had to move out, taking them to the end of July, it was getting increasingly urgent to gain permission to relocate them to the Coniston Estate.

“If planning is not given, we have nowhere else to take the hounds and this could mean the closure of the hunt, job losses and possibly having to destroy the pack,” said Mr Bannister.

He said people’s fears of noise, road behaviour or fouling of the highways should be allayed as, to his knowledge, there had never been any complaints from local residents – some 75 people within a two mile radius of their present kennels – in the 85 years they had been there.

Support for the application was also made in a statement from PC Duncan Thomas, wildlife officer with Lancashire Constabulary, who was responsible for four packs of hounds in Lancashire.

He said in the four years he had held that position he had received no complaints from the Gisburn site.

In contrast, North Yorkshire traffic police said they objected because of the narrow road with restricted sight lines and no footways, which could pose a danger to other road users. They said there was potential for traffic collisions and risk of injury to people and dogs.

Several more complaints came from residents of Bell Busk and Coniston Cold, who said their amenity would be compromised by the relocation of the pack.

Coun Dave Whittaker, of Bell Busk and Coniston Cold Parish Council, said: “Many residents from the Bell Busk area are deeply worried about this. There is no tradition of having the hounds at Coniston Cold or Bell Busk. There is a potential for serious accidents along the road and there is also the problem that we may have with hunt saboteurs.”

Karl Waddicor, a resident of Bell Busk who spoke on behalf of neighbours opposing the plans, said people had no objection to building works at Wheelwright Farm.

“Our objections are solely on the relocation of the hounds,” he said. “Not everyone is fond of dogs and a lot will be intimidated by their presence on the roads.

“We are also concerned about their fouling on the roads and the potential for disease from this fouling getting washed into the beck, a beck which feeds into the River Aire. Children use the road to walk to school,” said Mr Waddicor.

“It is a dangerous road and is used by local traffic, the school bus, freight and holiday visitors. The dogs will cause an added danger to road users.

“We already suffer from the noise from the guns at the shooting grounds and have suffered fireworks being set off at ridiculous times. To have to suffer the noise from the hounds is going to be untenable.

“There will be no real economic benefit for their move. It is going on at the expense of the residents and we don’t gain anything.”

Planning officers had recommended refusal of the application on the grounds of road safety, the lack of information about noise and the potential loss of amenity to the occupants of nearby properties.

However, Coun Ady Green said he could not see how they could refuse the application because no evidence had been obtained of the potential noise nuisance and therefore it could not be quantified.

He said there were several hills and trees, as well as a railway embankment, which would help deaden any noise.

The committee was told the hounds did not make noise when they were out being exercised and only made a noise when they were being fed – once a day between 7.30am and 8am.

Coun Robert Mason said he knew Wheelwright Farm well because he used to live at Coniston Cold. He said other animals, such as cows, could make a lot of noise and that the countryside was full of noise. “I’ve also seen lots of people with dogs on the road. You cannot restrict anyone using the public highway,” he said.

The planning committee voted to approve the application, stating the reasons were the diversification of the site, the inability to prevent hounds using the public highway and assurances of the dogs’ behaviour from the Association of Masters of Harriers and Beagles. The matter will be brought before the next committee to discuss possible conditions.