Plans have been put forward to transform the former Classic Herd farm shop in St. Peter into Jersey's first dedicated cat centre.
Owners of independent dairy Classic Herd at Manor Farm, Darren and Julia Quénault, took the decision to downsize from 80 cows to 30 and close their farm shop in 2019.
Since then, the store has operated as 'Classic Pets', which offers food and accessories for dogs and cats.
However, amid difficult trading conditions, plans have now been put forward to replace it with a dedicated "feline centre" operated by independent veterinary service All Pets Ltd, which is situated just adjacent to Classic Pets.
The planning application notes that, while Classic Pets is "no longer viable" as a business following a "marked drop in demand as the number of retail outlets in the immediate vicinity of St. Peter have increased", All Pets veterinary centre "has experienced an increase in the demand for its services, especially since the covid lockdown and the consequential increase in pet ownership."
The application continues: "The veterinary business acknowledges that part of its success is due to its location, and that as such, it is reluctant to move from these premises. The opportunity to expand into the adjoining Barn structure is very fortunate and is a very good fit for the operational objectives of the veterinary business."
Pictured: Julia Quénault, one of the owners of Classic Herd.
The application goes on to note that All Pets' ambition for their new premises would be for it to "become the first Feline Centre in the island, specifically tailored to the needs of cats."
"The sharing of facilities with cats and dogs can be stressful for the animals, especially the cats. Accordingly, by separating out the animals, some of the current strain upon the existing Veterinary Centre building facilities can be greatly reduced to the benefit of the dogs and other animals. As a result, the cats would benefit from the move to the converted Barn and the facilities the new annex facility would be able to offer."
According to Ben Benander, one of the Vets at All Pets Ltd, the move would be "a good compromise between progress and keeping in touch with the roots of the farm."
He further stated that, if all goes smoothly with Planning, the centre could be open as early as next year.
The farm shop site itself is a Grade 3 Listed building, which means it has special protection as a strong example of architecture from a period in the island's history.
A recent Heritage Impact Assessment concluded that the plans proposed seek "to improve the animal welfare standards for its customers, in an environment which is appropriate to the local rural environment."
It's also claimed that a "change of use [to a cat-focused centre] can occur with minimal impact onto the historic building asset" and that, if the application is approved, the subsequent "investment in the building fabric... will hold the historic building structure in good stead for generations to come."
A decision on the application, which has been graded 'Major' by Planning, is expected to be taken later this month.
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