Appeal hearing to decide if rabbit hotel can move to new site near Melton

Lisa Newton looks after a rabbit at her Hop Inn hotel EMN-180828-160237001
Lisa Newton looks after a rabbit at her Hop Inn hotel EMN-180828-160237001
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An appeal inspector will next month decide if the owners of a boarding facility for rabbits and guinea pigs can re-locate their business by building a bespoke holiday home which they say would be unique in the UK.

Melton Council has twice refused permission for Stuart and Lisa Newton to move and expand Hop Inn from Stonesby to land they have bought on Eastwell Road near Waltham.

Councillors felt the site for the proposed two-storey dwelling, with storage buildings, was unsustainable with limited local amenities and that future residents would be dependent on use of a car.

But the Newtons say they would be able to expand an already established successful business model, with a view to taking on up to three new staff.

The Newtons would grow their own meadow hay for use on-site and for sale and continue planting and selling Christmas trees already established on the land.

They also plan to run an educational centre to support owners, help trainee vets and instruct schoolchildren on the care and welfare of rabbits and guinea pigs.

“An important thing to make clear is, we are not a commercial business, we are a rural enterprise, and proud of it,” said Mrs Newton.

“We have provided a much-needed service for the local and wider community for over seven years.

“The new build would give us the grazing space we so desperately need for the rabbits and guinea pigs, larger inside and outside boarding facilities, a dedicated office and utility room, a bathroom facility for guests and an integral meeting room.”

She added: “We turn people and pets away year on year because we simply do not have the space, inside or out.

“We are landlocked and are unable to expand further the site where we have lived for 19 years.

“We have worked tirelessly to build a business people can, and do, trust, something which can be very lacking in today’s world.”

The appeal will heard at the council offices on September 12.