Green Belt development possible, says Malcolm Scott

Large and small, old and new garden centres such as Fairways, can be built on Green Belt land if the right advice is given says Malcolm Scott Consultants.

Scott said: "We have acted for many of the large garden centre developments in the Green Belt over the last 30 years, such as Bents, Polhill, Garsons and Poplars, and in some cases brand new garden centres in the Green Belt such as the recent approval given by Rugby Council to the new Fairways Garden Centre proposed at Brandon in Warwickshire.

"We equally act for smaller Plant Centres such as Mill View Nursery in Oxfordshire, where we obtained planning approval for a new Shop Building and additional Canopy Space in the Green Belt. In some difficult cases approvals can take many months to achieve.

"The successful permission involves a very careful initial assessment of the advantages such a development could bring to the Local Authority, the rigorous assessment of the size and scale of the proposed building development in terms of Covered Heated and Covered Open-Sided Space in relation to what exact footprint and volume of existing buildings and structures there may be on site, and a very precise and comprehensive assessment of the sustainability of the site in terms of meeting the NPPF’s definition of the word ‘sustainable’. This now includes economic and social aspects."

The new Green Belt development proposed at Brandon by Fairways includes 2,391m² Covered Internal Heated Retail floorspace including a Restaurant, a 698m² Open-Sided Plant Canopy, and a considerable Open Sales Area, Service Yard and 350+ Car Parking.

Scott said specific design requirements such as Highway and Traffic Matters, Ecological Assessments, Flood Risk and Water Disposal and Detailed Architectural Design Matters will allow few shortcuts and "even an outline application for approval requires the supply of detailed information which may well include Energy Calculations, for example, before being assessed.

He added that if an woner looking to sell for housing has been operating as a retailer rather than a grower for at least 10 years there can be an argument to be made under planning law.

Malcolm Scott Consultants has recently obtained three Certificates of Lawfulness relating to Retail Sales at Nursery/Plant Centres. At Craft Nurseries, near Ipswich, the new Certificate confirms the use of a large expanse of Glasshouse and Open Areas for a Garden Centre, being an Unrestricted A1 Use. At New Leaf Nurseries the Certificate confirms the lawful use of a large area of previous Nursery Land and some Polytunnels for the Retail Sale of Imported Items within Class A1. At David’s Nurseries near Worcester approximately 3,200m² of Indoor/Covered Nursery floorspace and 2,200m² of Open Sales Area can now be used as Unrestricted A1 Retail Space.

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