Monday, 23 May 2022

£5m plan to change garden centre

£5m plan to change garden centre

THE owners of a garden centre near Wargrave have submitted a planning application for a £5 million redevelopment.

Andy Dicks and Rob Scott, who run Hare Hatch Sheeplands, want to demolish more than half of its ageing greenhouses and replace some of them with allotments, a recreational field and an outdoor play area.

The garden centre building would be rebuilt on part of the land where a greenhouse currently stands.

The men also want to create a woodland comprising up to 100 paulownia trees which grow quickly and absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide. These are hardwood trees and not native.

Mr Scott said: “We would love to get started as soon as possible and we would do the work in stages.

“We need to demolish the greenhouses but hope most of the materials can be re-used. Glass, aluminium and steel could potentially be repurposed.

“I want to start on the café first. We want to give back to our loyal customers and create a relaxing space where they can have refreshments and look out over the beautiful surrounding fields.

“Currently, where the café is, is very cold. It’s not ideal for our customers, especially the elderly. Even the dogs who come in wear coats.”

So far more than 320 responses have been received by Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority, as part of a public consultation on the plan.

Mr Scott said 95 per cent of comments were positive.

He said: “Lots of people have wished us luck and it is clear people are supportive of our scheme.”

David Cunningham, of Westleigh Drive, Sonning Common, said: “I support this updating of a very worthwhile community asset, which I have been supporting for many years.”

Bridget King, of Walnut Tree Close, Ruscombe, said: ”Since moving to this area 14 years ago, shopping at Sheeplands has been a pleasure.

“The owner and all the staff have never failed in their dedication to provide a truly unique service.

“Help and advice has never been too much trouble and there is always an excellent variety of top quality food, plants and other items.

“I sincerely hope that the council will grant planning permission so that the business can continue to prosper.”

Tricia Miller of Springfield Park, Twyford, said: “I fully support this wonderful local amenity’s plans.

“Everyone should be supporting local business, especially when they provide excellent quality plants and knowledgeable staff.

“Hare Hatch Sheeplands were brilliant supporting people through the pandemic and, as a vulnerable person, I would not have coped without them.”

The public consultation will close on Tuesday and the council is due to make a decision by March 24.

For more information and to comment on the application (number 214108), visit www.wokingham.gov.uk

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