OWNERS of Ombersley Animal Sanctuary have hit back at claims their new haven is in breach of planning regulations.

Wychavon District Council and Worcestershire Regulatory Services said it is "looking into" Ombersley Animal Sanctuary, which launched at the Farm Shop and restaurant in Holt Fleet Road on Saturday.

The site, owned by Alan and Brett Wilkinson and the animal sanctuary a joint enterprise between Adam Smith and his partner Gareth Davies, was accused of breaching the timescale issued and being outside original plans submitted to the council.

But owners argue this is not the case and that under the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 (1.2) they can open for up to seven days without a licence.

Alan Wilkinson said: "We started building many months ago. We had planning permission to start between May 2014 and May 2017 so we were well within that.

"We have been building it for nearly a year now.

"There was a little bit of a situation were we may not have adhered to the entirely to the plan - but even if we have it is temporary accommodation. We are not going to open more than six times until we have the zoo licence - we have been compliant."

Adam Smith said: "We do not need permission- because we are not (fully) open (as a zoo). We are only going to open six times - every Saturday until the end of the year in order to raise funds for the zoo licence. We have to give notice of two months to the council before we can get this and we are at that point now."

David Hammond, Wychavon’s Housing and Planning Services manager, said: "Both Wychavon and Worcestershire Regulatory Services are aware of the site and are looking into what action may need to be taken to ensure the correct planning permissions and licences are in place."

The animals were previously forced to move from their previous home in car park at the Old Chestnut Tree pub in Lower Moor, Pershore.

Last year, Mr Smith said his animal sanctuary on the Isles of Scilly was forced to close, and when he took over the he moved the animals to the pub’s car park on a short term basis.

But Wychavon District Council planners rejected a change of use application to convert the car park into a permanent animal sanctuary late last year.

Following this, Mr Smith said he was forced to sell the pub and approached the owners of the Farm Shop and restaurant for help, who said they already had a licence to have an animal sanctuary after previous plans for one had fallen though.

For more, go to Ombersley Animal Sanctuary on Facebook.