Garden centre set to close as rent doubles

A London garden centre is set to close as its rail-operator landlord has more than doubled its rent.

Docklands Garden Centre, in front of Limehouse DLR station in Tower Hamlets, is a two-storey, ramshackle, hand-built operation, constructed by owner Alan Jarman over the past 15 years.

But landlord Serco wants to raise his rent from £16,000 a year to £37,000 a year and now Jarman is set to give up his livelihood because, with the current credit crunch, he can't afford the rent hike.

Jarman said: "The garden market is not doing well. Serco should recognise that industry has been shown not to be viable to cover that rent increase. When they signed the lease they knew what I was selling here and they should keep rent reasonable for this business. I've spent 15 years building this and now they want to knock it down and build something flashy and new."

Jarman said Serco increased the rent dramatically two years ago but he has refused to pay and now owes thousands of pounds in back rent. He says he has five years left of a 20-year lease.

Serco representative Sarah Allen said: "We can confirm that DG 99 Limited, which runs a garden centre at Limehouse station, submitted their notice to terminate their lease in March this year.

"DLR/Serco have no current plans to redevelop this site and will be letting the unit should it become available later this year."

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