Garden Centre Claims it’s ‘Being Strangled’.

The owner of a garden centre accused of planning breaches says the dispute could cost him up to ?100,000.

Rob Scott, of Hare Hatch Sheeplands, has been served with an enforcement notice by Wokingham Borough Council for allegedly using land to display and sell conservatories and greenhouses and extending the caf? and children?s play area.

He has appealed and a hearing is scheduled to take place on May 13 having been postponed from October.

Mr Scott said the centre had a successful Christmas but this was overshadowed by the prospect of having to close the business with the loss of up to 100 jobs.

He said: ?Under normal circumstances we would be very happy at the success of the business but that has to be put into the context of the difficulties created by our planning dispute with the council.

?It cost us ?50,000 to prepare for the planning inquiry that should have happened last year. Now we have to spend another ?50,000 to prepare for the new hearing. We should have been spending that on improving facilities for customers.

?But it?s not just us that is wasting money on this muddle ? the council must have spent thousands of pounds of council taxpayers? money.?

Mr Scott claims the council is unwilling to discuss the issue with him in order to find a compromise.

He said: ?They keep saying they want to negotiate but at the end of last year we put in a revised application showing a smaller site footprint and 48 hours later we received an email from the enforcement department rejecting them outright. There was no discussion nor negotiation.

?The public have made it clear they support us and want us to continue trading but the council seems set on doing the opposite.

?We will continue to push for a meeting with them in the hope that we can sit down round a table and bring an end to this drain on our time and resources.

?We are a successful business but the uncertainty is slowly strangling us and the council just does not seem to care.?

Borough councillor John Halsall said: ?The borough council is keen to find a solution for the site with Mr Scott but he must accept that the site is in the greenbelt, where there are strict controls over development, and existing planning conditions for the site.

?There have been discussions between Mr Scott?s planning agent and council planning officers but the scheme submitted proposed only a small reduction in floorspace currently being used and the activities currently at the site.

?If Mr Scott wishes to submit another scheme that reduces the amount of development and activity at the site further, the council will be very happy to consider this and provide feedback.?


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