Building local relationships

Writing in the next issue of HW sister magazine Garden Retail, industry stalwart and Sun gardening editor Peter Seabrook says he hasn't seen spring sales like those we have just experienced in 50 years of garden retailing.

He also notes how wrong new year predictions that grow your own would level out or even decline have proved to be.

As we report in HW this week, that continued strength of grow your own has contributed to an allotment waiting list across England of nearly 90,000 amateur gardeners.

Some are unlikely to secure a pitch within their lifetime thanks to the tiny number of new plots being made available by councils - equivalent to roughly one per cent of the number of people across the country still waiting.

The latest figures should remind garden centres - and other horticultural businesses - that have yet to consider how they might be able to help meet some of this pent-up demand, what a great opportunity this could be to forge strong relationships with the local community. Relationships that planning consultant Malcolm Scott reminds us this week (see p13) may help garden centre managers and owners win more sympathetic treatment from planners when looking to improve and develop their sites.

Localism, he notes, is likely to see many local authorities become more protectionist, making it even harder for businesses to push through development plans.

Anyone offering a facility highly valued by the local community - such as allotments - might just have a fighting chance.


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