Diversification in what garden centres sell is making it more difficult to obtain planning consents for new out-of-town centres.
Worcester-based Malcolm Scott Consultants has 53 garden centre planning projects on its books situated from Carlisle to Kent. Director Chris Primett said that over the past 18 months planners have been interpreting the Government’s planning policy guidance six (PPG6) increasingly strictly, which means that city and outskirts developments are favoured over out-of-town buildings.
Primett said: “Garden centre planning applications require more evidence of why garden centres should be developed. Planners are looking at the range of goods sold. Non-plant material can account for 50 per cent of products, and planners say anyone can sell these products in the high street.”
The consultant has gained planning consents at Sussex Country Gardens and Early Dawn Nurseries garden centre in Suffolk. In August, Sussex Gardens will start building an 820sq m extension and Early Dawn will have an 800sq m new retail building. Director Malcolm Scott said as it becomes “increasingly difficult” to gain approvals, this is “particularly noteworthy”. The firm has also won consents at two green-belt sites, including Poplars Nursery in Bedfordshire.
Primett said another government guideline, PPG13, stipulated that garden centre plans should include sustainable features, such as cycle paths. He said plans for the recycling of water, waste and materials are also important in winning planning permission.
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