MSC secures expansion permissions for Wallingford garden centre

Root One Garden Centre, Wallingford, is set to improve its customer proposition after planners at Malcolm Scott Consultants (MSC) secured permission for extensions to its coffee shop, retail area and more than 30 new parking spaces.

Root One Garden Centre tasked MSC with obtaining planning permission for a series of changes at the site to help the centre adapt and evolve in response to changing consumer needs and competitive retail channels.

Andrew Burton of MSC said: “Further to assessing its retail operation, Root One Garden Centre recognised the need to address those parts of the business which can create a competitive difference over an internet-based retailer. Taking into account consumers’ needs regarding lessons learnt from the coronavirus pandemic, the garden centre identified a number of requirements for how the business needed to develop, with the need to offer a wider range of products, including more garden leisure ranges. 

“Further considerations needed to be made when applying for additional retail space to the requirement of additional space for browsing – while there are plans to curb all social distancing measures in due course, many will not be comfortable with that and Root One acknowledged that,” he added.

“With space in mind, the owners also recognised the need to allocate addition space to its coffee shop. With fewer seats in the coffee shop to maintain distance between customers, Root One wanted to increase its seating area and the size of its kitchen to allow for future growth and more circulation space for kitchen staff.”

Malcolm Scott Consultants’ planning team submitted plans to South Oxfordshire District Council to construction extensions to the retail area, ancillary coffee shop seating area and kitchen, as well as the erection of an additional dry goods storage space. The business also requested permission for 33 new parking spaces at the site to allow for visitors spending longer at the centre.

Andrew added, “Root One are first and foremost a plant based garden centre with recent trading on plants alone totalling around 45% of their turnover. Root One are able to offer an experience and an inspiration for their customers that a computer screen is unable to replicate, and the presence of their excellent, knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff re-inforces this advantage.  However, they were struggling to fit all of their customer offer into the current space so this will be a real bonus for them.   

“Storage for back up stock was also an issue, as well as shortage of car parking spaces, and on a further practical level, office and staff quarters will also be improved as part of the plans. This is important because as the centre grows they will potentially need to employ more staff, so there will be more job opportunities in the next year as well, which is great for them and the local community.”

Jeremy Brudenell, who established Root One Garden Centre in 2001, said: “We are delighted to have been given the green light to push ahead with these plans. The centre has expanded really successfully over the past two decades and extending our existing retail and hospitality areas will help us further to enhance our customer experience and increase the time they visit us, as we look forward to the next 20 years.”

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