Saturday, 21 July 2018

Second petition in planning dispute

THE owner of a garden centre facing legal action for planning breaches has launched a second

THE owner of a garden centre facing legal action for planning breaches has launched a second petition calling for the business to be let off.

Hare Hatch Sheeplands, near Wargrave, is accused by Wokingham Borough Council of using green belt land without permission.

More than 11,000 signed a petition in March, which the council refused to consider, saying it cannot accept petitions on planning issues.

Now Rob Scott, who owns the business, has launched a second petition because he says both he and the council are spending “ridiculous amounts of money” on the dispute.

He says he wasn’t told the original petition wouldn’t count before it was presented at a council meeting by Patrick Heather, former chairman of the Twyford Village Partnership.

He said: “The council allowed one of our loyal supporters to present a petition to them in the knowledge that they were never going to consider it.

“Under their own constitution, which they are allowed to amend if they want to, they do not accept petitions about planning matters but they never told anybody that before it was presented.

“The 11,000 people who signed the petition, plus nearly 1,000 who have added their signatures since it was presented to the council, will not give up this fight.”

Mr Scott says the centre has thousands of customers and also supports many smaller businesses, charities and local organisations.

He said: “We are a venue for the elderly, the young and many groups. Local schools and organisations also benefit from our support as we continue to play a full part in local life.

“We also benefit the many local suppliers and companies with whom we do business. All of that will come to an end if the council gets its way because we would be operating at a loss and be forced to close down. It is vital that our customers make it clear to the council that they do not want Hare Hatch Sheeplands to close down.”

A council spokesman said: “When the petition was presented, officers explained it couldn’t be accepted.

“Petitions about planning decisions cannot be accepted because such decisions require professional specialised knowledge, delegated to professional officers and our planning committee.

“We’re anxious there isn’t further disappointment with this latest petition, so Mr Scott is urged to check our constitution and contact the council before starting to collect signatures.”

To sign the petition, visit about_hare_hatch_ sheeplands#for

• Entertainers including clowns, circus performers and magicians will stage free shows for children at Hare Hatch Sheeplands garden centre over the summer holidays. Acts include Bertie’s Slippers and dance and music class MAD Academy. Shows and activities will take place every day until Sunday, September 4, apart from on Mondays and on Tuesday, August 23.

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