COUNCILLORS know they are going to have to tread extremely carefully when deciding to ban dogs from areas of the Green Corridor project in Wellington.

The former Somerset West and Taunton Council bought the 64 acres of land – known as the Green Corridor and covers an area stretching from Tonedale to Hilly Head and includes The Basins nature reserve – in 2022 and signed it over to Wellington Town Council on a 150-year-lease.

A vision and management plan for the Green Corridor project was agreed by the town council in April 2022 and covers a number of key ingredients.

These included making the land available for public use and to be used to promote recreation, healthy lifestyles, local food growing and the development of arts and cultural spaces; working with the Wellington Community Food Group to establish a community farm on the land; extending the existing Basins Allotments site to create more space to encourage greater self-sufficiency in food production; and looking at developing extra playing pitch capacity with the Wellington Sports Federation.

Tentative discussions have already been held about making particular parts of the area dog free in order to help with health and safety for users and to avoid unpleasant dog fouling.

It has been suggested, for example, by the Wellington Community Food Group that the farm area needs to be a dog free zone.

But members of the town council’s environment and heritage committee are nervously cautious about upsetting dog walkers who have used the Green Corridor land for exercising their four-legged friends for many years.

Cllr Keith Wheatley, speaking at the committee’s latest meeting on March 13, said he was fully aware that the “dog walking issue” could become “very contentious.”

“I think we are going to have to handle this with a lot of sensitivity and awareness,” he said.

Cllr Wheatley said the town council would have to act as the “balancing force” between the dog walkers and those who want certain areas of the Green Corridor dog free.

Committee chairman, Cllr Mike McGuffie, said: “We have to balance up the views of the community by having a proper consultation with the community.”

Town clerk Dave Farrow told councillors that the situation had to be “managed well” and that the Wellington Action Group for Dogs, known as WAG for short, had been in contact with the council and offered its help.

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Catherine Govier, added: “We want to be as inclusive as possible and hear as many different voices as we can. This is a big piece of work.”

And Cllr Wheatley added that the council could hold a “good old-fashioned” public meeting.

Although nothing has yet been formally decided, councillors know that they do not want to upset the local dog walking community who use the Green Corridor land to exercise their pets – albeit recognising that the situation needs to be managed properly.

A management plan for the Green Corridor will be put before Wellington Town Council’s full council in April.