Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Planning row garden centre to hold exhibition on its future

THE owner of a garden centre at the centre of a planning dispute with Wokingham Borough

THE owner of a garden centre at the centre of a planning dispute with Wokingham Borough Council will hold a public exhibition on his plans for the business.

Rob Scott first put forward proposals for Hare Hatch Sheeplands in 2014, which include an educational farm, allotments and a play area for children.

However, they were put on hold after the borough council started enforcement action against Mr Scott for of using green belt land without permission.

Mr Scott will now hold the exhibition to display his vision for the centre from Friday, September 23 to Sunday, September 25. Among the features he wants to introduce is a “desert world” with cacti and other succulent plants from South Africa.

This would create a home for his national collections of Haworthias and Gasterias plants, including several endangered species.



Mr Scott said: “We are already an important local community base but young and old alike would benefit from these plans, as would local groups.

“It is very frustrating to sit on them when we believe they would bring real benefit to so many people.

“So we have decided that, at the very least, we will let people see what we hope to do on the site, all of which we believe is completely compatible with green belt restrictions.”

Meanwhile, a second petition supporting the garden centre has been signed by more than 4,000 people.

The petition now has enough signatures to trigger a full debate at a council meeting.

An original petition, signed by 12,000 supporters, was rejected by the council because it cannot accept petitions based on planning issues.

Following consultation with the council, Mr Scott amended the wording of the second petition so it could be discussed by councillors. He said: “This time the petition urges the council to support Sheeplands in its role as a community hub. By the end of last week we had close to 3,500 signatures on the online or paper petition.

“What’s particularly important is that we very quickly achieved more than 1,500 signatures from within Wokingham Borough and we understand that’s enough to trigger the debate.

“Signatures are still coming in on a daily basis so the totals will eventually be much higher.”

He added: “We intend to discuss this further with council officials to decide on the most appropriate way forward from here.”



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