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Garden centre growth plan flowering at last?

PUBLISHED: 16:38 16 April 2013 | UPDATED: 16:41 16 April 2013

A plan of the proposed new St John's Garden Centre site at Roundswell.

A plan of the proposed new St John's Garden Centre site at Roundswell.

Archant

Councillors advised to give the green light for plans to relocate St John’s Garden Centre to Roundswell.

PLANS for the relocation of St John’s Garden Centre to Roundswell in Barnstaple could be determined tomorrow morning (Wednesday) after a five year wait.

North Devon Council’s planning committee has been recommended to approve a brand new 6,475 square metre complex, including a retail garden centre and restaurant. In addition there would be classroom space, exhibition and ‘farmers’ market’ areas.

The Oliver family have been bidding for five years to relocate their business from Newport to the new larger site next to the A39 and B3232.

It would include more than 2,000 sq metres of greenhouses, together with the Jungleland attraction and 173 car parking spaces.

‘Red tape’, including the need for an environmental statement, highways issues and other legislative hurdles have seen the planning process stop and start since the application was lodged in March 2008. It came before councillors in February and was deferred while more information was sought.

If successful, the application states the current work force of 80 could be increased up to 120.

Council planning officers have recommended approval for the scheme, subject to a ‘Section 106’ agreement to contribute funding towards local infrastructure.

A report to councillors says although the proposal is for a green field site, this would be outweighed by the extra employment and economic benefits it would bring.

It also said an agreed package of Devon County Council highway improvement works at nearby Roundswell roundabout will also assist in making the crossing of the A39 by pedestrians and cyclists an easier journey.

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