Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Bid to re-open unlawful garden centre areas

THE owner of a garden centre which was threatened with closure over unauthorised expansion has submitted new plans for the site

THE owner of a garden centre which was threatened with closure over unauthorised expansion has submitted new plans for the site.

Rob Scott had claimed that Hare Hatch Sheeplands, near Wargrave, was in danger of shutting with the loss of more than 100 jobs after Wokingham Borough Council decided to start enforcement action following a long- running planning dispute.

Mr Scott was first served with an enforcement notice for unauthorised expansion in 2012 when the council said he was using green belt land without permission and had extended the café and children?s play area.

Now Mr Scott has submitted fresh plans to the council for both the play area and a pet food retail unit.

The indoor play area and a petting farm on land next to it were in use before the council took action.

The play area has inflatable toys, slides and climbing frames. The farm has pens for animals and walkways between them for families to walk along. Under the new plans there would also be picnic areas.

Despite the enforcement action, Mr Scott and his agents Green Planning Studio claim the play area and new petting zoo would not contravene planning regulations on green belt land. In their planning statement, they say outdoor recreational use is permitted as long as it ?preserves the openness of the green belt?.

The council is expected to make a decision next month ? eight months after it refused Mr Scott?s last appeal against enforcement action.

The garden centre?s monthly craft market, which had been running for nine years, was forced to close in May.

Mr Scott started a campaign to keep the business open and customer Heather Mailley ran an online petition calling on the council to withdraw the enforcement notice.

The council said it wanted the business to stay open but in April planning officers said they were left with no choice but to refuse Mr Scott a certificate of lawful use for the extensions at the centre because he was unable to provide evidence that the developments were ?established?, meaning they had been in use for 10 years or more.

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