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Residents condemn Hare Hatch garden centre green belt plans

Picture: KoalaParkLaundromat via Pixabay

THE NEW owners of Ladds Garden Village have submitted plans to reshape the site to suit their vision.

The Granary Group aims to launch The Berkshire Gardener, a “contemporary gardening retail village” to replace the “outdated” site.

But numerous residents have objected against the plans, which have been published on Wokingham Borough Council’s planning website, calling for the green belt site to be protected.

In September, tenants were served notice after the new owner took over from the Holliman family.

Since taking over the site the Granary Group began demolition in the main building, pulling down walls inside.

Twyford resident, Sally Driver commented on the plans, concerned about the recent building works.

She said: “I am a huge lover of conservation and green belt land and have witnessed [them] chop huge trees down that have been there for many years.

“There are pictures of these trees that have been removed on the original drone shot in the plans and now on the new application they are gone.”

She added: “I was at the garden centre only three weeks ago and noticed a very large area of concrete has been already laid to a huge pathway, which is green belt land.”

Wargrave resident Rebecca Smith likened The Berkshire Gardener to Dobbies Garden Centres.

In her comment, she said: “Why would the community need a site that follows another Dobbies business model when there is a Dobbies less than half a mile down the road?”

And Wokingham resident, Bev Yates, questioned why a further garden centre is needed along the road.

It is currently home to Hare Hatch Sheeplands, Dobbies Garden Centre, The Floral Garden Centre and Wargrave Nursery Plant Centre, with Primrose Nursery around the corner.

Other residents were concerned about the business owner’s actions, since taking over from the Holliman family.

Reading resident Chris Best called the owner a “disgrace”.

And Bracknell resident, Mel Parker said: “Any plans should be made a stop to straight away and a visit from health and safety would not go omiss (sic).”

Managing director of The Granary Group, Jon Burke, said on the website: “We will be reinvesting in this site for the next three years with many new jobs created.”

According to the plans, the new business will create an additional 52 jobs, with the site employing 80 staff in total.

The new centre will include a food hall, farm shop and cafe among other changes.

Mr Burke said he hopes to launch the new site in March which will include “a major redevelopment of the current frontage, plant area and main store, the centre can become a contemporary gardening retail village attracting customers from far and wide.

Phase one of three will include replacing the asbestos roof on the main building, re-cladding the outside creating a larger outside cafe space, and demolishing 14 buildings to “tidy up the site and open up the frontage”.

Planning consultation closes on Thursday, January 14.

For more information, search for planning application number 203085 on the borough council website.

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