Planning hurdles threaten Next's home and garden plans

Next has turned to Facebook after hitting planning problems in its bid to open 20 home and garden centres.

The Leicester-based chain has plans for outlets in Warrington, which will open in May/June after a delay caused by a fire; King's Lynn in Norfolk, next to the overflow car park at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield that was rejected by the local council in November; Maidstone; and Hanford Dean in South Manchester.

But Next has had to begin Facebook campaigns in the face of local opposition to planning to highlight how many jobs the centres will provide - up to 150 a store.

The fashion group has existing 5,600sq m home and garden stores in Shoreham, West Sussex and Ipswich, Suffolk, though plans for 20 sites announced in 2012 by chief executive Lord Wolfson are making slow progress.

A representative said: "We launched the Facebook campaigns after coming into trouble with planning to say: 'Look, this will provide x amount of jobs for the community.' We're always looking. It's just a case of finding the right site and getting planning permission."

The former Thales Avionic offices site earmarked for a Next development in Raynes Park, south-west London, is not big enough for a garden element, he added.

Former Van Hage and Shoots buyer Jeremy Hall is now working as Next gardening buyer.

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