A PLANNED housing development on land to the north of Edgeley Road in Whitchurch may have restrictions on pets.

The proposed application for 70 houses by Berrys includes a planned covenant to deter the ownership of cats, primarily to protect the water vole population in the area.

Other conditions being brought in include the fencing off of certain areas to prevent people and dogs from interfering with the water vole's habitat.

The ecological assessment says: "The watercourse and a minimum 10 metre of adjacent habitat on both sides of the watercourse will be fenced off (post and rail with stock netting) to protect water voles and suitable water vole habitat. The fencing will prevent unauthorised human access and also dogs.

"The 10 metre buffer of dense/wet vegetation should also deter cats from occurring within the suitable Water Vole habitat but if possible, the owning of cats by new residents should be deterred by an appropriate covenant on purchases.

"Dogs in the public open space beyond the water vole fence should be kept on leads with signs erected enforcing this and also information boards erected to further inform new residents on water vole presence, protection and management."

The report goes on to say that the control of the watercourse will ultimately be handed over to the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to provide "long-term management and monitoring to safeguard the Water vole population, including reporting any pollution incidences or changes in hydrology."

But concerns have been raised by some on how the restriction of owning cats will be enforced.

Commenting on the planning application, water vole enthusiast Kate Long said she was lacking reassurances that the water voles would be protected.

"I want to support this development – I can see a lot of care has gone into trying to save the water voles," said Ms Long. "But can anyone reassure us that the owning of cats by residents, as mentioned in the ecologist's report, will be enforced?

"I don't see how it can be. Or is there any other proven solution to keeping cats away from the brook that could be considered?

"Because the sudden influx or 20 or so cats will certainly finish off this colony of water voles, and possibly also the two outlying colonies at Grocontinental and Mossfields which rely on these particular voles for genetic health."