A couple who built a giant playground for their 10 cats in their front garden are facing having to tear down their 'catio' because they don't have planning permission.
Lorraine and Adrian Marshall built the enormous £1,500 adventure playground for their pets after losing three of their cats to road accidents outside their home.
The couple enlisted the help of a landscape gardener to build the 8ft enclosed area, which was inspired by the Jungle Jim’s play area at Blackpool Tower.
It means their cats Winston, Molly, Ollie, Peanut, Freddy, Mia, Toby, George, Chester and Kevin can play without fear of being hit by cars or picked up by opportunistic cat-nappers outside their home in Blackpool.
But they have now been told they may have to tear down the structure, which has sparked complaints from neighbours, because they had not got planning permission.
The couple have now set up an online petition, which has attracted more than 800 signatures, to fight to keep their catio.
Lorraine, 42, said: "I was heartbroken. How can I tell the cats that they can’t use it? It’s soul-destroying.
"We spent so much time on it, and the cats love it. If it has to come down, it will devastate us – I just don’t know what I will do.
"The cars fly down here, and it’s a really busy street. I can’t let the cats out on the road.
"I’d have to keep them in and that, to me, is cruel after we’ve let them out in this space. It’s not healthy for them. They need fresh air."
The couple said they didn't think they needed planning permission because the playpen isn't a permanent structure or an extension of their house.
"I said I was sorry and that I would apply for permission," Lorraine added, but the planning enforcement officer said they were going to knock it down anyway.
"He didn’t give us a reason why. He just said they had received a complaint about it, and that we should’ve put in a planning application."
Her husband Adrian, 60, said he was disgusted that he isn't allowed to build something in his own garden after running post offices in the area and serving the community for 30 years.
A spokesman from Blackpool Council said: "We have visited and spoken to the Mr and Mrs Marshall. We advised that the structure built in the front garden does require planning permission and this can be applied for retrospectively.
"We have also said that we would be happy to meet the owners again at the property to see if there is a suitable alternative."
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