Update for Hare Hatch Sheeplands: Council prepares to make decision on latest petition to save garden centre

Supporters of troubled Hare Hatch Sheeplands are due to make another plea to councillors to save the under threat garden centre.

Wokingham Borough Council will be discussing a petition which asks it to do: “Everything it can to ensure Hare Hatch Sheeplands continues to operate as a financially viable enterprise” at its meeting on Thursday, November 17.

The two parties have been locked in a bitter dispute since the garden centre was slapped with an enforcement notice for illegally expanding onto the Green Belt in 2012.?But Hare Hatch Sheeplands owner Rob Scott says the full council meeting could signal the beginning of the end for this sorry episode.

Shoppers and the owners are expected to urge councillors to withdraw the enforcement notice after presenting them with the petition.?The councillors will then have to decide whether to comply with garden centre’s demands or snub the petition, which has attracted more than 12,000 signatures.

Mr Scott, who insists his business is under threat because of the enforcement notice, said: “This is a valuable opportunity for our supporters to demonstrate the depth of feeling in our favour.

?Thousands have signed petitions backing us and I urge them to turn up in force at the debate and make their feelings known.”

He added: “All we are asking the council to do now is lift the notice so that our evidence can be examined [by an independent planning inspector].

“This could lead to a speedy resolution and bring an end to a time-consuming process that is costing both parties huge amounts of money.?While the notice is in place this dispute is set to head for the Supreme Court, but may take three or four years to get there.”

The popular garden centre saw a previous petition, which implored the council to withdraw the notice, get snubbed earlier this year because it related to a planning decision.

Mr Scott also appeared in the High Court in September, accused of failing to comply with the notice, but the case has been adjourned until a later date.

The council is warning supporters there is limited room at the meeting, which is being held at its offices in Shute End, at 7.30pm.

A spokeswoman said: “There will be some spaces for people to attend, but we stress these are limited and are on a first come first served basis.?Twenty spaces will be available in the public gallery upstairs in the council chamber where the debate and meeting are being held.?There will also be one hundred spaces in the David Hicks Room across the hallway, where we hope to have live webcast streaming.?If you cannot attend the meeting, or spaces are filled, the debate will also be streamed live online on the council?s @WokinghamBC Twitter.”

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