Major retail planning application for St Johns Garden Centre to be submitted in January

A significant planning application for a huge new retail site near Barnstaple which could provide hundreds of local jobs is set to be submitted in January.

St Johns Garden Centre is set to move from its current Barnstaple location to a larger retail site off the Torrington turning on the Roundswell roundabout, to be developed on land owned by the garden centre’s owners.

The garden centre, which has been at its site in Newport since 1970s, has grown over the years and the company now needs more space, particularly for car parking.

Nick Oliver, along with his brother Simon, plans to make a better, more modern development by widening the customer aisles, having more space for their large range of plants, and generally improve their offering.

Mr Oliver said: “It is difficult to find a site which is big enough and accessible enough to fulfil our needs, because we are bringing car customers and lorry deliveries off the main road and into the site.

“Articulated lorries are coming down here past the residential area and three schools, so this area will get a lot quieter and safer if we move, and it is in line with local and government policy to build houses in this area.

Mr Oliver does not think this will lead to more cars on the road at an already busy roundabout, as the centre’s opening times do not interfere with the busy rush hour times, drive through customers are already on the road, and people visiting the pub will be travelling later in the evening.

Current new job estimates lie at around 250, with places being a mixture of full and part-time.

Mr Oliver added: “We want to improve customer experience, our buildings, our product offering and create a better ambience for shoppers.

“This centre is not only for local customers to visit and make a purchase, because a more prominent location will attract tourist visitors as well.

“This is an important part of visitor experience to North Devon and we rely on tourism. We are a company who employs local staff and pays local suppliers and everyone makes more from an enhanced visit to North Devon.”

The plans are still currently in the discussion stage but the Oliver brothers are intending to submit a full planning application to North Devon Council in mid-January.

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