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Consultation approved for ‘Dogs on leads’ areas at Hylands

Hylands Aaron Crowe

Chelmsford City Council’s Cabinet has approved a public consultation on proposals to create special zones of Hylands Park where dogs must be kept on a lead.

Off the lead dogs can scare children and adults who aren’t comfortable around them, even if they are well behaved. So, a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) has been drafted to ensure the park is a safe place for everyone. The plans outlined in the PSPO would designate certain areas of Hylands where dogs must be on a lead, so that everyone can enjoy their time at the historic estate.

According to the draft PSPO, some of the estate’s busiest areas, such as the front and back lawns of Hylands House and the area between the adventure playground and The Stables, would form part of new spaces for park users where dogs must be on a lead.

The majority of the 574-acre estate would remain available for owners to let their dogs exercise as they wish. Assistance dogs would be exempt from restrictions.

The public consultation is planned to start on Thursday 13 July and will end on 11 August.

Increase in reports of ‘dangerously out of control’ dogs

The proposals follow an increase in incidents of dangerously out of control dogs reported to Chelmsford City Council. In the last year there were 33 reports of dog on dog or dog on human attacks in public areas in Chelmsford, including a number of incidents at Hylands. These include the following reports:

  • A group of five large dogs off the lead (possibly rottweilers) approached a family opposite the adventure play area. One jumped on their 4-year-old child.
  • A large husky-type dog tried to bite a park user on an early morning walk.
  • Two terriers off the lead attacked a dog being walked on the lead close to the Grand Pavilion.
  • A complainant’s dog was attacked by a dog off the lead at a ‘dog walking event’ at Hylands House.
  • A dog walker travelling towards the car park from Hylands House passed a woman walking four dogs. One of these was off the lead and it grabbed the complainant’s dog around the neck.

Livestock and wildlife are also affected by out of control dogs. The estate’s deer have been attacked by dogs off the lead at Hylands; last month, one animal had to be euthanised after sustaining serious injuries from a dog attack.

The council’s public health and protection services manager says the proposals are a proportionate response to this trend.

“Although most visitors to Hylands Park co-exist quite happily most of the time, there are occasions where out of control dogs cause alarm, distress and injuries to people, wildlife and other dogs. With incidents of this nature increasing both locally and nationally, it’s sensible to think about measures designed to ensure that everyone can use the park with confidence.

In reality, these plans shouldn’t make much difference to the way that responsible dog walkers use Hylands. Public Spaces Protection Orders are intended to make public spaces more welcoming to the majority of law-abiding people.

The proposed PSPO will allow people who are nervous around dogs and dog walkers who wish to keep their dog on the lead to enjoy the park without fear. The PSPO would also allow dog walkers plenty of space to walk their dog off the lead if they prefer.”

Paul Brookes, Public Health and Protection Services Manager

Map shows where special zones could be created

The draft PSPO includes a map which explains where special zones could be located at the historic estate.

Hylands Dog Walking Map V03 1

Dogs on the lead

Areas suggested as ‘on the lead’ zones can be seen in orange on the map. These are typically spaces used by large numbers of visitors for recreation and for open-air events with lots of people gathered in one place. Many visitors already choose to have their dogs on a lead in these spaces. They include:

  • The estate’s car parks, including the Writtle road entrance to Hylands Park which is also used for parking.
  • The green space immediately next to the adventure playground leading up to The Stables and Hylands House.
  • The estate’s formal gardens, including the Pleasure Gardens, The Hanbury Memorial Garden and the One World Garden.
  • The area surrounding The Stables, Grand Pavilion and Hylands House and the front and back lawns of Hylands House.
  • The immediate area surrounding the Serpentine Lake.

Dogs off the lead

Dogs would be allowed off the lead in any of the areas which are not shaded red or orange on the map.  Although dogs will be allowed to be off the lead they still need to be under the full control of their owner. If a dog is not controllable off the lead then it must remain on the lead at all times.

Even with some restricted areas, around 480 acres would be available for dogs to be exercised off the lead. These areas are easily accessible from all of the estate’s car parks and pedestrian entrances.

Walkers In Hylands Park
Dogs can be off the lead in much of the park according to the proposals

No dogs allowed in certain areas

There are a small number of spaces marked on the map where dogs wouldn’t be permitted at all. This is because the PSPO is a legal order which must specify this sort of detail. The places marked in red are where dogs aren’t currently permitted and the order would seek to formalise this. These include:

  • The adventure playground.
  • Hylands House, the Grand Pavilion and The Stables courtyard.
  • Fenced-off grazing areas for horses and cows.
  • The walled garden, which is closed to the public.
  • Home Farm which is only open to staff.

No more than four dogs per dog walker

The PSPO would also limit the number of dogs walked by any one person to four. This would apply anywhere in Hylands Estate. The RSPCA recommends that no more than four dogs are walked at any one time by a single person and that is the maximum number being proposed for Hylands.

The plans will now be put forward in a public consultation which will give people a chance to submit comments to the council if they wish.

Cllr Rose Moore, Chelmsford City Council’s Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford says it’s all about balance.

“Hylands is a truly wonderful and substantial green space with an incredible variety of habitats and a fascinating history. Dog walkers who come to our beautiful park week in, week out, see all of the changes that happen throughout the year and feel an understandable connection with the estate.

But Hylands isn’t only a place to walk our dogs. It’s a space for children to find joy in creative play and connect with nature, a park for get-togethers and picnics, a venue for a wide range of inspiring outdoor events, and a working estate with heavy horses and cattle.

Fortunately, attacks by out of control dogs are not a common occurrence at Hylands, but they do happen, and reports of such incidents are increasing. Everyone should be able to enjoy the estate without fear and we must weigh up the needs of all visitors. People will be able to comment on these proposals as part of a public consultation and we will consider all responses carefully when Cabinet next meets.”

Cllr Rose Moore, Cabinet Member for Greener and Safer Chelmsford

Consultation starts in July

Find out more about the consultation, including how to share your views, on the PSPO page on our website. Information about the consultation will also be available at Hylands Estate. The closing date is 11 August.

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Julie Weight
Julie Weight

Julie writes stories and creates videos for Chelmsford City Council. Contact her at julie.weight@chelmsford.gov.uk or on 01245 606984.