Alex Turco told town councillors, at a planning meeting last week, that plans to extend Sanders by 3,500 sqm “presents a risk that jobs and revenue will be diverted from the existing economy of Burnham”.
Wyevale used external assessors White Young Green Planning to write a retail assessment document to consider the risk of diversion. WYGP found 11 businesses would overlap and £0.5 million would be taken out of Burnham’s economy.
Turco said: "The Chamber's principal concern is the quality of the data used by the applicant's retail assessment. In one section it is highly inaccurate, incomplete and certainly not up to date."
"White Young Green Planning omits 54 business premises from their assessment. The total business premises should be increased to 227 from 173. They state that 11 businesses have competitive overlap, yet we estimate that 80 businesses have competitive overlap, - 600 per cent more than WYG's estimate… a loss of £4.04 million from Burnham-On-Sea's economy per year. This is more than the £2.73 million additional turnover created at the site.
Cllr Pauline Pollard added that she has concerns about the wide range of goods that Sanders Garden World would sell.
"China, glass and gifts are all items sold by small shops here in Burnham."
Cllr Janet Keen added: "This garden centre almost appears to be turning into an out-of-town shopping centre. It's been shown elsewhere that those can kill whole communities."
A formal planning application was recently registered by the store's owners, Wyevale Garden Centres, which will be reviewed by Sedgemoor District Council's planning team later this year.
Wyevale referred to the secretary of state’s review of the application that gave the project the go ahead and which gives no planning grounds for denying the application. Wyevale reiterated WYGP's finding that the only overlap is of only 11 businesses out of 150 in the town.
Wyevale is the second biggest employer in the town with 125 staff that will rise by 20 full-timers and 20 part-timers.