Covid-hit Oswaldwtistle cattery prepares for new luxury lodges

A cattery that has struggled to survive during the coronavirus pandemic is set to expand with a suite of new luxury lodges for its feline guests.

Owner Craig Dodding has applied for planning permission for the development of his site in Oswaldtwistle.

He founded Rhoden Manor Cattery in 2016 with his wife Claire, but in 2020 the outbreak of Covid-19 destroyed his business, leaving his business threatened with closure as the pet owner stopped going on vacation.

The problem has been compounded by the problems animal boarding schools, including kennels, have faced in securing government grants to support them during the pandemic.

Mr Dodding launched the UK Alliance of Catteries and Kennels to get them reclassified by Whitehall into the hospitality and tourism sector – an ongoing initiative.

His business received money from Hyndburn Council, but far less than if it had already been in the new designation rather than linked to professions such as town criers.

But now business has picked up and he is looking to expand.

Mr Dodding has applied to Hyndburn Council for permission to build eight wooden cat lodges, a wooden guest lodge at his premises in Higher Rhoden.

His site currently has 24 cabins and is licensed for 66 cats. The new lodges would be authorized for another 40.

Mr. Dodding hopes to supply his new lodges to other catteries across the country.

He said: “It was tricky whether we were going to survive certain times of the pandemic.

“We got through with the help of the family and using all our savings.

“It has been a rocky road for our industry and my business has not received enough support throughout the pandemic.

“As nationwide support throughout the pandemic was appalling, 35% of UK catteries and kennels have closed.

“Things have improved now and we hope to expand our facilities.

“As such, I designed and built a prototype freestanding luxury cat lodge in our forest.

“I’m very happy to say the feedback has been amazing and I’m delighted.

“This is unique and as such we have launched Rhoden Manor Lodges Ltd who will supply and build cat lodges throughout the UK.

“If we get planning permission, we will start building our new pavilions over the next few years.”

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