A RESCUE centre in Flintshire has finally been granted planning permission to take in animals – after 26 years.

Capricorn Animal Rescue in Padeswood has technically been operating unofficially since it opened its doors to stray pets.

Owner Sheila Stewart, who insisted she did not realise she did not have permission, said vital improvements would now be made at the shelter.

Leeswood councillor Ray Hughes said maintenance work was long overdue.

He said at a meeting of Flintshire's planning committee: “To be quite honest with you the centre is a mess.

“There are a lot of tourist coaches that travel up and down that lane and to look out of the window and in to the centre does nothing for the area.

“I support this application because it will do everything for that place.

“There was never planning permission for this so let us correct this and let them carry on with their fantastic work.”

Volunteer Liz Egan outlined her case for planning permission at the meeting.

She said: “We wish to improve the habitat not only for the animals but for our work experience people too.

“We have an excellent reputation for the care of animals with students from all over working here.

“We want to create the sanctuary we have worked long and hard to establish.”

Members voted unanimously to pass the plans, which include new outbuildings, better parking and improved access from Padeswood Lake Road.

Speaking to the Leader after the meeting, a delighted Sheila said work had already begun.

She added: “We have the chaps from the kennel company coming tomorrow to tell me what needs doing.

“To say I’m pleased is putting it mildly.”