Barratt's site lease stalls Garden Centre Group deal

Garden Centre Group seeks alternative Humberside site after planning alterations are thwarted.

Garden Centre Group (GCG) is looking for another site in the Humberside area after giving up the lease on the new-built Peter Barratt's Beverley site it bought as part of a £50m spending spree four years ago.

GCG has cited planning issues as the reason it is giving up the flagship site.

Klondyke is thought to be taking on the site, although it is believed that managing director Bob Hewitt has also run into planning issues that are delaying the move.

The lease on the £4m, five-year-old premises is due to expire on 15 January.

Landlord Key Growing managing director Jon Los said: " The issue for GCG is that it is for sale and that coincides with the timing of renewing and altering the lease. The garden centre is trading okay, but it (GCG) couldn't make it work in the time frame.

"We have reached heads of agreement with a garden centre group, but the problem is that the incoming tenant would like to have a slightly different planning permission to sell arts and crafts and that's very difficult in this climate.

"We have seen garden centres 20 years old have no restrictions, but newer ones have restrictions and we are trying to address that."

Los said that if the prospective buyer backs out another one could step in. "We're looking for anyone who is interested, but we hope we already have an agreement.

"It's one of the newest-built centres on six acres and is operating with food retailing. It's sad in this climate we couldn't get people's heads together to pass this quickly," he added.

Industry views on current garden centre planning restrictions

Simon Quinton Smith, director, Quinton Edwards

"I don't understand why Garden Centre Group (GCG) is giving notice. It's a really good centre. Nor do I understand why the people going in are making a fuss about crafts. It has good concessions and good potential for growing."

Malcolm Scott, Planner

"Most conditions on what you can sell are specific to a centre. Sometimes you are lucky and have 'open A1', but usually you are entitled to sell 'everything except ...' - or you can sell 'strictly within the following uses pertaining to gardening'. Arts and crafts is usually not considered gardening."

Mike Gilbert, partner and garden centre head, Gilbert Evans

"Lease renewal is protected by the Landlord & Tenant Act. We act for garden centres where leases are being renewed. It's about a dialogue between them. Often the major issue concerns rent rises."

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