Dobbies downsizes approved Carlisle garden centre application by £2.5m

Dobbies has cut the size of its proposed garden centre near Carlisle in Cumbria by half in a £2.5m cost-cutting move.

The Tesco-owned garden centre chain opened a smaller centre in Shepton Mallet in 2009 and afterwards said future stores may copy the smaller format template. Dobbies gave up an application for a centre near York in 2009 but has plans for new centres at East Kilbride, Houston Mains, Nether Alderley and Renfrew.

The controversial Carlisle centre is planned as a direct rival for Klondyke's Houghton Hall flagship garden centre, opened in 2006 on the northern outskirts of the city.

Carlisle councillors approved a 6,000sq m store last month but Dobbies have now submitted new plans for a 3,000sqm garden centre to the city council.

The new design would see the cost of the store reduced from £10m to £7.5m, which Dobbies feels is more "appropriate in the current climate".

Dobbies director of property Stuart Wright said: "When we applied for this, which was quite sometime ago, the feeling was that a 6,000sq m store was appropriate.

"The world has changed somewhat in the past year or so and current thinking is that a smaller building is more appropriate in the current climate, but designed in such a way that we can then expand that building.

"At the moment we feel that 6,000sq m would be too big in the current economic climate, and if we were faced with a choice of build bigger or not build at all we probably would not build."

The smaller store would see between 80 to 90 jobs created, as opposed to around 120, and Dobbies is hopeful that work could start by the middle of next year, with the centre opeing in February 2011.

A further change to the design of the building will see it constructed entirely out of timber, for reasons relating to sustainability.

A consultation period on the new application is underway and the city council has identified 8 February as the target date for a decision to be made.


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