Little Dodd Garden Centre builds eco-pods to lure tourist market

Centre revamp includes 18-20 eco-pods giving sustainably-focused camping accommodation.

Diversification into providing eco-pods represents the way forward for a Cumbrian garden centre, according to its new owner.

Andrew Lewington and his wife took over Little Dodd Garden Centre in Keswick, Cumbria, three weeks ago having bought the business from David Horsburgh. Lewington is a former Yell group manager, while his wife worked for Cumbria Life magazine.

Planners Taylor & Hardy are working on a rebuild scheme for the centre. Lewington said he hoped to start work in October or November. The revamp will include a new centre building with a cafe and farm shop.

Also in the plans are 18-20 wooden eco-pods, which could be built at the same time or next summer in an adjoining field.

Lewington said: "This will bring access to a completely different market, the tourist market, that will give us income streams we would not get otherwise."

Gary Wilburn, owner of garden centre design company HPW, is also involved in eight holiday parks in the UK such as at Sandy Balls in the New Forest.

He said the provision of yurts and pods for glamping - camping in sustainably-focused accommodation - were important parts of his business and had potential planning gain. "It's something that goes with all the staycation issues that are coming to the fore and it just makes sense," he added.


- Alistair Lorimer, retail consultant

"This is not a development that would be unexpected, but I've not seen it at any other garden centres yet. Leisure parks, like garden centres, evolved from farmland. Landal GreenParks in Holland have eco-friendly buildings on them with parkland landscaped around them in a wild way."

- Paul Pleydell, director, Pleydell Smithyman

"We've looked at this to answer the question 'What can we do with adjoining land?' At Seiont Nurseries in Snowdonia there is a campsite and we did some work at the coffee shop. It 'sweats the assets' by using the catering facilities for a captive audience. Your food hall can become a convenience shop and anything that grows footfall is a good thing."

- Neville Stein, retail consultant

"Look at the success of the garden centre franchise Yeomans. Eco-pods and yurts are a fantastic idea because a lot of garden centres have space that isn't used. Campers will use your coffee shop for breakfast. It's the same business model as adding concessions."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Are garden centres taking business from department stores?

Are garden centres taking business from department stores?

Can other garden centres learn from Petersham Nurseries and the fusion of retail elements in its new Covent Garden outlet?

Consolidation reaching ever further across horticulture

Consolidation reaching ever further across horticulture

Consolidation is stretching across the nursery and retail horticulture sectors, with Dutch corporate finance company Oaklins saying the horticulture market is now going through another wave of consolidation.

Electric car charging: an opportunity for garden centres?

Electric car charging: an opportunity for garden centres?

There are 11,700 electric car-charging points across the UK but only eight at garden centres, so more can be done to take the opportunity in garden retail.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES

Our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. 

Garden Centre Prices

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles

Neville Stein

Business advice from Neville Stein, MD of business consultancy Ovation

Read latest articles