Q&A ON THE NEW SITE PLANS FOR ST FRANCIS DOGS HOME
We are pleased to be able to share with you the welcomed news that St Francis Dogs Home has revised its planning application to Cornwall Council.
As a Charity, our goal has always been to maximise the care and support that we can provide to dogs and we are proud that our supporters also share this objective.
We have collated this Q&A document in order to provide clarity and transparency around the site plans as well as how we will continue to ensure the care and safety of dogs moving forward.
We want to thank you all for your support during this time.
What are the site plans that you are submitting?
The proposed site layout includes:
- A block of 10 replacement kennels with runs and an attached food prep / utility room
- Two isolation kennels and run with food prep/utility area
- An administration building which will include a welcoming reception area, offices and staff facilities as well as an overnight studio to enable members of staff to stay overnight
- The existing training hall will remain
The training hall will continue to be used by both St Francis’ dogs and for external customers.
What are the key differences between these site plans and the ones previously planned for?
The rescue sector has changed drastically over the past couple of years as a result of the pandemic and one of our main priorities at St Francis has been to ensure that we are providing dogs with the support they need which reflects the current climate. This has meant that we have had to change the site plans significantly.
The revised site plans will allow us to fully meet the needs of the dogs both through our fostering model and the kennels and enable and support our fosterers and adopters with ongoing training which will further benefit our dogs.
Edhen Vets, which are already on site at Beaver Lodge, will also provide our dogs with more on site support and limit distress as they will no longer have to travel in cars for veterinary appointments.
What’s wrong with the current site?
When the state of the buildings were reviewed in 2019 it became immediately apparent that they were in a very poor condition and did not meet modern DEFRA standards. The boarding kennels were closed first as they would clearly have failed to meet the newly introduced licencing standards. Subsequently the rescue kennels were closed.
The Government is planning to introduce licencing and standards for rescue kennels in the near future (as has already happened in Scotland)..
The existing buildings, which we believe are no longer fit for purpose and are economically beyond repair, will need to be demolished along with all kennels. The brand new kennels have been chosen as the previous ones were not suitable due to the layout causing reactivity amongst dogs leading to stress and exacerbating behaviour issues. There was also no effective disease barrier between the structures which resulted in three outbreaks of kennel cough in one year leading up to the closure. The timber framed training barn at the southern end of the site will be retained.
Will the new site plans incorporate any sustainable solutions?
Yes, we are committed to incorporating sustainable solutions where we can and the site plans submitted have accounted for low energy heaters, low energy lighting and solar panels. We will also be looking to use sustainable timber as part of the works to the admin building which will support us in being more energy efficient and saving costs.
How much will this cost?
The cost for the new site plans will be considerably lower than what was previously submitted. Our previous plans envisioned a more expensive build however due to costs increasing and material shortages, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and other economic challenges, we took the time to review the plans. We have also factored in our fostering model and the requirements of this on our site. Fortunately the cost of materials and labour is now looking more stable which has in turn reduced building costs. We will also be using modular buildings as part of our proposed site plans which are more cost-effective and provide many benefits including allowing us to make quick and low-cost changes to the buildings should any welfare legislation changes for dogs come into play in the future.
How will the site plans be funded?
St Francis has been incredibly fortunate to be left legacies and donations which will be used to fund the site plans. This includes the generous amount left to us by the late Margaret Jean Wiles, known to us as Peggy, to provide warm and comfortable kennel accommodation. As well as this, we will also be looking to continue raising funds through applying for relevant grants, corporate donations and through community fundraising. If you would like to enquire about donating then please get in touch: email@example.com or via our JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/stfrancishome-foranimals.
How long will it take for the plans to be approved and for building work to commence?
The time it takes for the plans to be approved will depend on the Council however we are hoping for a time frame of between six to eight weeks. We won’t be able to start any works until all conditions from the Council have been met and so any updates will be provided once we have received a response on our application.
Who will be undertaking the work?
Once the planning application has been approved by the Council, we will then be required to tender for contractors to complete the works.
Why has it taken so long for the site plans to be finalised?
We needed to take the time to look at the site plans to ensure they were cost-effective but also delivered the best care for our dogs. We have also been committed towards developing site plans that cater for our fostering model and the rescue sector which has seen many dogs’ benefit from being in a home environment rather than kennels.
How will you ensure that the building work has minimal impact to the dogs in your care?
We are very pleased to say that all of our dogs are currently in foster homes and so will not be impacted by the building work. We will also not be opening the kennels until it is safe to do so. By using modular buildings this will ensure that less disruption is caused and the construction has a quicker turnaround.
If you are currently undertaking a foster model then why do you need kennels?
There has been an enormous increase in the number of dogs being taken into care since the Coronavirus pandemic. This has been due to a number of reasons including many dog owners being first-timers and inexperienced in looking after their dogs, behavioural issues such as dogs experiencing separation anxiety, poor socialisation and more. Fostering will continue to be our preferred model as it means that rescue dogs can benefit from being in a home environment, rehabilitating and receiving regular human companionship, until they are ready for rehoming. However, we will still require kennels for any dogs awaiting a fosterer or if the dogs need specialist support when they come into our care.
Will the site continue to be used for training?
Yes, the site will continue to be used for training to support the dogs in our care as well as those that are currently being fostered and even after they have been adopted. It is important that we ensure our dogs settle well into their new adopted homes so that we can minimise failed adoptions.
What are your plans for future fundraising?
We are continuing to look at fundraising within the community and are actively looking for new Trustees and volunteers with a background in fundraising to join us. We will be applying for a range of grant funding whilst continuing to ask individuals and the community for support. If you would be interested in hearing more about the opportunities available at St Francis, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How has the fostering process been going?
During the closure and lockdown we helped re-home nine dogs and since August 2022, we have re-homed 24. There are currently 10 dogs in foster care, with one in long-term foster, and we have 18 fosterers within our community.
How can we help?
St Francis is proud of its longstanding supporters within the community and beyond and so once plans have been approved by the Council we will be continuing to look at corporate and community fundraising. We are also actively seeking volunteers and Trustees with experience in fundraising to join St Francis as well as fosterers looking to support us in rehabilitating the dogs in our care, in a home environment.