Whitehall Garden Centre proposes redevelopment

Whitehall Garden Centre is in the process of submitting plans for a redevelopment.

A community involvement event us being held at the Lacock, Wiltshire centre from 29 June to 31 July.

Original planning permission was granted in 2008 (which was later renewed in 2012), for the redevelopment and re-ordering of the current garden centre, "in an attempt to rationalise and improve the efficiency and safe operation, plus enhance the customer experience and increase the sale of consumables to smooth out the strong seasonal income trends associated with the traditional garden centre use".

Whitehall said: "The family and colleagues have now had the further opportunity to reflect on the redevelopment scheme approved in 2008, some of the more detailed implications relating to the phasing, layout, function, safety and efficiency of the site are now not fit for purpose.

"We have also considered the levels of competition and customer expectations and also included the future-proofing of our business to ensure its longevity and thus the continuity and expansion of the current employment levels.

"It is envisaged the new proposals will result in the doubling of employee numbers to a minimum of 312 full/part time permanent and increasing to in excess of 376 to include seasonal workers.

"In relation to the key elements of the proposed new plans, the 2008 approved scheme did not provide for a phased development, to enable the business to continue trading, the levels did not provide for an easy circulatory route for service and emergency vehicles, or allowing the delivery vehicles to be routed separately from the customer traffic, additionally the service area is now considered too small and too close to the local neighbouring residential properties to serve the needs of the garden centre adequately.

"The proposed new plans allow for a level platform throughout the centre that will allow ease of access for customers using wheelchairs, pushchairs and (potentially heavy) wheeled trolleys. The 2008 scheme as approved did not take consideration of the necessary income streams needed, to enable the business to remain competitive as a garden centre 'destination' against other national chain competitors. In terms of the design concept, the buildings have been designed as 'Tithe barns' with the use of a palette of good quality natural materials, to complement the type of buildings found in and around the village of Lacock.

"The plans show extensive parking would be provided; including 360 spaces in the new main car park (including 35 assisted/special needs spaces), with 180 overflow spaces, five coach parking spaces and 10 customer collection spaces, as well as staff car parking of 75 spaces, with 3 of these being allocated for disabled use."

Managing director Peter Self said: "These are challenging and exciting times, the customer expectation is getting even greater, the competition is becoming price driven and moving online, as a family business we are endeavouring to be intuitive and build on the hard work built up by my grandmother and father to further develop the business to serve the local community and visitors to Wiltshire."

Andrew Aldridge is architect for the project.

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