THE future of a garden centre remains uncertain after a planning appeal hearing was cancelled.
Hare Hatch Sheeplands was served with an enforcement notice by Wokingham Borough Council for alleged planning breaches, including using land to display and sell conservatories and greenhouses to extend the café and children’s play area.
Owner Rob Scott appealed and a hearing was scheduled for October 8 but now this has been cancelled after the council withdrew the enforcement notice and issued a new one due to what it called “further unauthorised development”. A new appeal hearing will now take place but probably not until next year.
Mr Scott claims he will be forced to close the business if he loses the appeal and 100 employees will lose their jobs.
He said: “We are furious at the council’s action and we totally deny that we have taken further development since the first enforcement notice was issued.
“All the points they make reference to were in existence prior to the first enforcement notice being issued and we don’t believe that they are breaches anyway.”
The planning breaches were discovered last year after Mr Scott applied for a £2 million renovation project.
Clare Lawrence, head of development management at the council, said: “The position is regrettable but the site is located in the greenbelt and the council must protect the open character and cannot support harmful, unauthorised development.
“It is disappointing that, despite the previous enforcement notice, the business has undertaken further unauthorised development that has led to the further notice being issued.
“The council has always tried to negotiate with the owners and will continue to do so. Enforcement is always the last resort.”