Consultation underway on garden centre plan for 130 homes

Ingatestone Garden Centre in Essex may close in around four years to be replaced by 130 new homes.

Existing owners bought the garden centre three years ago but have recently approached the Parish Council with development plans.

Mountnessing Parish Council chair Karl Afteni said: "Developing on the existing built area of the centre may be possible but owners would have a case to make if they want to develop the plot of greenbelt land adjacent to the site."

He said that if the plans go ahead it’s likely the garden centre will shut down completely. "It’s a shame but if you look at it on a wider scale, lots of other businesses across the country are shutting down," he said.

Afteni admitted that there are other operators in the area who could fill the gap left by Ingatestone Garden Centre. "It’s not as though we aren’t well served – there is quite a lot at Chelmsford which is only a five minute drive. And places like B&Q have very reasonable prices."

The development is still speculative at the moment but if plans are passed Afteni expects work to start in around four years time.

The garden centre is on Mountpassing Parish Council land but is also close to the larger village of Ingatestone.

Vice-chairman of Ingatestone and Fryerning Parish Council David Abrey said: "The Parish Council has raised concerns over the loss to the village. The centre has a nice restaurant which would be missed."

Abrey noted other concerns such as whether existing facilities and village infrastructure such as doctors’ surgeries, parking and sewage disposal would be able to cope with the number of new residents.

He also suggested that the garden centre is unlikely to stay open even though a map outlining the plans shows there is potentially room for both.

He added: "This is a draft plan and there is no guarantee it will be passed. It is out for consultation at the moment."

Owner James Harding was not available for comment.

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