Garden centre’s request to expand retail offer is recommended for refusal

Taverham Nursery in Fir Covert Road. Picture: Bill Smith

Taverham Nursery in Fir Covert Road. Picture: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

A garden centre's plans to expand the retail offering on its site in Taverham could be put on hold due to concerns from council officers.

Taverham Nursery Centre is seeking permission to vary a planning condition which restricts certain businesses from operating on its site at Fir Covert Road.

Centre manager Matthew Steel says the variation will enable independent businesses to occupy two currently vacant units.

But despite being supported by Broadland District Council's economic development officer, the application has been recommended for refusal.

Planning officers claim it will lead to the site becoming an out-of-town shopping centre, which would have an adverse impact on other 'local centres'.

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Eighteen units on the site are already occupied by independent businesses, ranging from a kitchen accessory shop to chocolate makers.

Mr Steel said a hairdressers and a nail bar were interested in moving into the two empty units. But current planning conditions for the site mean they would not have permission to operate.

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'We have had a 40pc business rate increase this year,' Mr Steel said. 'And in order to fund that we have got to have flexibility.

'Will the council give us a rate reduction if we have a bad year? I don't think so.'

He said the units are rented out to businesses by a partner of the garden centre.

Broadland's economic development officer said a diversity of services would benefit the local economy and existing businesses at the site.

The officer said there were no other suitable premises locally for the two businesses wanting to move in.

But in a report which will go before Broadland's planning committee on June 6, planning officers said: 'The NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] also seeks to ensure the viability and vitality of town centres and local shopping areas, and allowing an open retail use in this countryside location will adversely impact on the existing local centres in Drayton, Taverham and surrounding areas.'

The officer's report said the creation of an out-of-town shopping centre will also increase traffic.

It will be up to Broadland's planning committee members to decide the application's outcome.

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