Otter garden centre in Torquay will nearly double in size, creating 70 new jobs if major expansion plans are given the go-ahead.
Otter Nurseries is applying for planning permission to expand and redevelop the existing Styles Garden Leisure Centre in Moles Lane on the edge of Torquay. The lane would have to be widened if the plans are approved.
It would means some of the disused greenhouses will be demolished, another 253 car parking spaces created, and a new retail building would include a café.
Recommending approval, the report says: “The development will generate an additional 70 full time jobs, providing approximately 100 in total and is likely to have spin-off economic benefits within the local area.
“Otter Nursery have been operating on the former Styles site but it does not meet their requirements and it is notable that the existing car park is small and is often over-capacity resulting in on street parking on the surrounding rural lanes.
“Otter Nurseries grow 80 per cent of the plants they sell and part of the site will be retained for horticulture. This is a use that tends to require a countryside location.
“Visitors to garden centres will normally always arrive by car due to the bulky nature of goods that are sold, an out of centre location is typical for this type of development and access by public transport, on foot or by bicycle is less likely to be taken up by customers even if available.
“The design and materials of the main building are appropriate for its rural setting. The orientation, layout and use of solar panels and wind assisted ventilation cowels will help reduce the buildings carbon footprint. The carpark is large and it will be important to secure a high quality landscaping scheme to soften the appearance including strategic tree planting.
“Concern has been raised by residents at Higher Compton Barton about loss of privacy and noise disturbance from the café and delivery under-croft, but it is considered that there will be no significant adverse impact on residential amenity.
“The development proposes the redevelopment of a brown field site for a larger, enhanced garden centre on an out of centre location within the countryside with no access to alternative forms of transport and with no safe pedestrian access. The location would not normally be considered to be sustainable, however the use as a garden centre is one which attracts car borne visitors.
“The development is likely to result in an enhancement of the visual amenity of the area and to biodiversity and localised problems of overspill on-street parking will be resolved. The development also has the potential to improve flood risk issues in the local area.
“It is considered that the benefits of the development outweigh the limited harm that may arise from the sites car dependent location and as such it is recommended that planning permission be granted.”
Although the garden centre has a Torquay address, it falls within the parish of Marldon and therefore it goes before South Hams District Council planners, who are being recommended to approve the plans when they meet on Wednesday, June 6.