Garden centre plans - row goes on

THE controversy over the multi-million pound redevelopment of a garden centre in Woodbridge stepped up a gear last night with a warning that some of the town's special qualities would be lost forever.

By Richard Smith

THE controversy over the multi-million pound redevelopment of a garden centre in Woodbridge stepped up a gear last night with a warning that some of the town's special qualities would be lost forever.

The increasingly bitter battle over the future of Notcutts, in Ipswich Road, which has divided many people in the town, took a new twist when Suffolk Coastal District Council's tree expert unveiled her report.

The report by Anne Westover was presented at the town council's planning committee and she wrote: ''The proposal does not accord with the Local Plan policy, this seeks to ensure that the development should retain the character and appearance of the landscape and its trees.

''Given that the proposal is within the Woodbridge Conservation Area, the design should seek to retain and enhance its special qualities. Many of the special qualities of the Conservation Area will be lost forever and to recreate these in the more limited space left will take in excess of 20 years.''

The town council has already registered an objection to the plan for housing, sheltered accommodation, a medical centre and an enlarged garden centre at Notcutts. Last night the planning committee was due to give further reasons for its objection.

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But the councillors decided they needed time to absorb a discussion paper prepared by chairman Diana Ball which was not made public.

The councillors will meet again on February 3, two days before the district council makes a decision on the plans, and agree on a response which will be given to the district council.

Meanwhile, the Woodbridge Society has expressed ''extreme concern'' about the Notcutts plan and Tony Hubbard, chairman, claimed the planning policy was "being ignored by the applicants".

He said the Society felt there were other more suitable sites in Woodbridge which could be used for a medical centre and that the ''very special and memorable'' vista in Ipswich Road needed to be protected from development.

Notcutts has sent out hundreds of leaflets in the last few days urging residents to support their plans. The district council held a site visit on Monday.

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