Garden centre plans rejected

THE battle for supremacy among garden centres in Woodbridge took a new twist yesterday when Notcutts was refused permission for a multi-million pound redevelopment of its prestigious site.

By Richard Smith

THE battle for supremacy among garden centres in Woodbridge took a new twist yesterday when Notcutts was refused permission for a multi-million pound redevelopment of its prestigious site.

The company's plans for a larger garden centre, housing, a medical centre, sheltered housing and a nursing home in Ipswich Road were turned down by one vote.

Notcutts is now left weighing up a range of options including launching an appeal; submitting a revised application; putting in a new application or awaiting the revised Local Plan and tailoring a redevelopment to the policy.


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But a few hundred yards away the Wyevale garden centre on the A12 is forging ahead with a major redevelopment to increase its range of products and create a 200-seater restaurant. The scheme is due for completion in the Spring.

Charles Notcutt, chairman of Notcutts, told Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control sub committee that the company's redevelopment would safeguard existing jobs and create new employment at the second largest employer in the town.

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He told councillors that the company was on the verge of its 107th birthday and Notcutts was committed to the town.

''There is a lot right with this application. There will be a permanent public park, traffic calming along Ipswich Road, the retention of many trees and woodland, and more trees can be planted.

''There will be a new site for a medical centre which is now such a major, important issue for the town - they have been searching for four years and no viable alternative site has been found,'' said Mr Notcutt.

He asked councillors to defer their decision to allow more discussions to take place, particularly on the height and mass of proposed housing next to Warren Hill Road and the cemetery.

But Ed Stanford, chairman of the Woodbridge AP238 Action Group, told the meeting there were possible alternative sites for a medical centre including Deben Mill, the New Street school redevelopment or Melton Grange hotel.

He said: ''The application is a breach of the Local Plan and of the site's conservation status. The proposed medical centre is not a sufficient reason to agree to a breach of the plan.

''Even though this is a Conservation Area, the applicant has not been required to submit a full planning application, but merely an outline one in the interest of cost-saving. How and why does the applicant command such a special privilege?''

Notcutts made a last-minute revision to the scheme and said affordable housing could be provided. Housing on the land is contrary to planning policy but cheap homes could be viewed by the council as a benefit to the town.

There was also a late flurry of letters with correspondence from 42 supporters and 15 objectors. The number of people who have expressed views in letters and by signing petitions is about 1,200.

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