Garden centre development unveiled

A NEW health centre, a retirement complex and flats are among the features of a multi-million pound scheme to redevelop a garden centre location in Woodbridge.

A NEW health centre, a retirement complex and flats are among the features of a multi-million pound scheme to redevelop a garden centre location in Woodbridge.

Notcutts yesterdayunveiled a wide-ranging redevelopment of their site on Ipswich Road where the company wants to increase the size of the garden centre to become more competitive.

The company includes housing in the plans, due to be submitted to Suffolk Coastal District Council in a few weeks, to help to pay for the costs of nearly trebling the size of the garden centre.

There will be an economic boost for the town with 22 more jobs created when the garden centre staff increase from 63 to 85 positions. The office staff on site will remain at 105.

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The doctors' practice in Framfield House, St John's Street, aims to move to a purpose-built medical centre with better access for the disabled, specialist service rooms and 48 car parking spaces. The chosen location is between a planned public open space and woodland at Notcutts.

Between the medical centre and Warren Hill Road nearly a hectare of land is earmarked for 10 two-storey flats and 14 houses. Excavations would be made to deepen the bank on Warren Hill and this would help to obscure the new homes from Warren Hill. The views of Sutton Hoo from Warren Hill would be preserved.

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McCarthy and Stone retirement developers are interested in developing part of the Notcutts land for 40 units of sheltered housing accommodation in two and three storey buildings. These flats would be available to buy for over 55s.

Another piece of land, the landscape compound adjacent to Fen Meadow, has been set aside for more sheltered housing or a nursing home. The compound would be relocated without the loss of jobs.

The number of car parking spaces for the garden centre and offices would increase from 200 to 240. The total number of spaces on the redeveloped site, including provision for homeowners, would be more than 300.

The current entrance on Ipswich Road would be closed and a pedestrian crossing could be installed.

The garden centre is about 12,000sq ft and the aim is to increase this to 30,000sq ft and Notcutts would extend the 80-seater restaurant and expand all departments. New activities like water gardening and aquatics are planned.

It would take about three years to redevelop the site if planning permission is obtained.

William Notcutt, managing director, stressed that the family-owned company was determined to bring in a sensitively designed scheme that would enhance the site and benefit the company and residents.

Mr Notcutt said the Woodbridge garden centre had the second smallest buildings of any of the 14 centres it owned and it needed to modernise and expand its activities.

"I am very keen to upgrade the facilities and this scheme will very much fulfill our long term requirements. We have been listening intently to the comments received in an informal consultation process and we are going to be making some changes to our plans prior to submitting the outline planning permission.

"Woodbridge is our home town. My family has lived in this town for 106 years and we have a sense of responsibility to Woodbridge," said Mr Notcutt.

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