The chief executive of the company which owns Sycamore Park Garden Centre says that no “definitive decision” has been made over whether it will continue to trade beyond the summer.
A planning application to build 52 affordable homes on the Chester Road site was submitted by developers Lane End in November and is awaiting a decision.
A letter supporting the application from The Klondyke Group – owners of the centre – states that they can “no longer run a viable business in this area” due to competition from rival centres.
The letter, available under the planning section of the Cheshire West and Chester Council website, adds: “We have therefore taken a decision at board level to close the Great Sutton site. The site will close by early summer 2018.”
Dated ‘January 2018’, the letter is signed by Klondyke chief executive David Yardley and appears to sound the death knell for the garden centre, whether the application to build homes there is approved or not.
However, when contacted by the Standard, Mr Yardley sought to clarify his comments in the letter.
He said: “If planning is granted for the Lane End proposal, the garden centre will close at some point this summer. If the planning application is refused or delayed for some reason, then we will review our options at that time.”
He said there had been no “definitive decision” on the future of the centre, adding: “The letter is supporting the application and the centre will close on the assumption that planning is granted. If planning is not granted then we will review our position and the centre may continue to trade for a period.”
Klondyke purchased the Sycamore business in 2007 and it is one of 22 garden centres within the group.
Nationally, Klondyke employ 1,150 people – with 11 full-time and 12 part-time staff at Sycamore, which is also home to a coffee shop. There are three other competing garden centres within 4.5 miles.
The proposed housing scheme for the Sycamore site is for 38 houses and 14 two-bedroom apartments which will be developed for shared ownership and affordable rent. The garden centre would be demolished to make way for it, if planning permission is granted.