Garden centre faces enforcement hearing next month over planning issues

Garden centre owner Rob Scott is facing an enforcement hearing next month following complaints from Wokingham Borough Council that he has breached planning rules at Hare Hatch Sheeplands, Berkshire for using the land to display and sell conservatories, using greenhouses to extend the café and children’s play area and having an events area and parking and storage of vehicles, plant and waste.

The unauthorised work was discovered by Wokingham Borough Council when he applied for a £2 million renovation project in 2012.

Scott appealed and agreed to demolish some of the unlawful buildings but an enforcement hearing will still take place next month.

Scott has prepared himself for the appeal by gathering informatino about garden centres that have said they are forced to 'weatherproof' themselves and diversify by adding non-gardening products to their portfolio.

He said: "If we lose the appeal, Sheeplands will no longer be viable as a business and we will be forced to close. That means 102 people will be out of work and customers from throughout the area will have fewer shopping options."

Scott, who recently celebrated 20 years at the centre, has been trying to gain consent for a change of use since 2003.

Councillor Keith Baker, executive member for planning and highways, said: "It is green belt land where this huge and unlawful expansion has occurred.

"The approved facilities occupy less than 1,000 square metres but the unlawful facilities occupy nearly 10,000 square metres.

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