A couple who built a giant 'catio' in their front garden fear they will have to tear it down despite a 26,000-strong petition to save it.
Lorraine and Adrian Marshall built the £1,500 structure in the front garden of their home in Blackpool after three of their cats were killed in road accidents on the street outside.
After a fourth was nearly killed, they got a landscape gardener in to build a 'catio' for their pets in the front garden of their home.
Inspired by Blackpool's adventure playground 'Jungle Jim's' and made out of chicken wire and wood, it was designed to provide a safe but spacious, stimulating and relaxing environment for their ten cats.
But despite saying they had consulted with neighbours before its erection and thinking they did not need planning permission, the couple were visited by a council planning officer in September 2021 and told they would need to apply for retrospective planning permission.
The Marshalls launched a permission to save their beloved creation, but have now received a letter from Blackpool Council saying the structure is "in breach of planning control" and they either need to submit a retrospective planning application or move it to a "more appropriate location".
But Lorraine claims they were told by a planning officer in September that even if they apply for permission, it is unlikely it will be granted, and the catio "would have to come down".
The 43-year-old, who has severe anxiety and fibromyalgia, said her health problems and those suffered by 61-year-old husband Adrian, who has heart disease, have flared up after receiving the latest letter from the council.
She said: "My husband is devastated; he went and lay in bed all day because he was so devastated because this is all we’ve got to keep them safe and you can’t stop them going out now, that is not possible, now that the weather is better. They're out there all the time and they come back in at night time.
"Seven months later, we've had no correspondence, so why start again now several months later? I can't go anywhere else, it’s not a permanent structure.
"If we have to go for planning permission, we will do that, if we have to lower it a few inches, we’ll lower it a few inches. But they’re saying it has to be relocated and there’s nowhere for it to be relocated; it’s not possible, and I just don’t see how it is hurting anyone."
The ten cats who benefit from the catio include: Winston, 21; ten-year-old Molly; Ollive, eight; Tony and Mia, who are both one; Freddie and Peanut, both six; Kevin and Georgie, who are almost one; and Chester, who is one.
Lorraine added: "We have ten cats in there, but they don’t live there all the time; it’s just going out there to play. It’s been up since June last year. We couldn’t keep them cooped up in the house all day long; it’s not fair on them because they need fresh air but they deserve to be safe."
A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: "It is now six months since our initial contact with Mr and Mrs Marshall where we advised the structure they had built did not have planning permission.
"We understand that it is an upsetting situation so wanted to give them some time to consider their options. During this time we have received more complaints, as a result we have once again written to them and offered to meet on site to discuss a way forward."