London mayor rejects eco-centre proposals

In a move that could spell bad news for garden centres wishing to expand, London mayor Ken Livingstone has turned down a green garden centre scheme that the owners claim would have benefited the local community and environment.

Surrey-based Chessington Garden Centre managing director Jolyon Martin said the decision was the end of the road after more than four years of planning: “It’s really very bad for us. Ken Livingstone is talking the talk on the environment but not walking the walk. [The proposal] went right to him but he’s rejected us. “We’re the only garden centre in the country with ISO 14001. We wanted new buildings with green roofs and reed beds and an education centre and lecture theatre. It was about being more of a part of the local community.” Martin said being on the border of three local authorities made the application for the Malcolm Scott Consultants energy-efficient design more complicated. “We’re regrouping now. But at least we can focus on the business and not planning appeals now. Appeals are financially prohibitive,” Martin said. The Greater London Authority (GLA) recommended that the Kingston-upon-Thames council reject the application. GLA leader Livingstone was concerned the plan to provide 4,896sq m of built floor space and 1,095sq m of open-sided floor space for use as a garden centre, as well as extending the open sales area, relocating existing growing houses, car parking and access “constitutes inappropriate development on greenbelt land, and will also result in the loss of land of biodiversity value”. There were also concerns over the design, sustainability, access and energy.

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