A plan for a garden centre in Lathom to sell alcohol has been approved by a licencee committee. Neighbours complained that the plans for Warbreck Garden Centre to sell beer and wine would result in drunk revellers.
A licensing committee has approved the application. This allows owner Richard Allison to sell alcohol from 9am to 11pm, seven days a week.
Mr Allison said to a local paper: “I think the first thing to say is that we respect our neighbours. We want to be able to serve alcohol along with food and during events. We are not a nightclub.”
When Mr Allison’s plans were submitted they were met with opposition from neighbours and ward councillor Paul Cotterill.
Warbreck Garden Centre
A resident of Dickets Lane said: “I am appalled that Warbreck have put in for an out of hours licence.
“This is a complete change of useage of the garden centre and is not in keeping with its rural location.
“Over the last 10 years the garden centre has expanded their business and this is already causing an impact with light and noise pollution. This is just a step too far.
“Our main concerns are people partying until the early hours and the nuisance caused by drunken revellers leaving the premises. There will be disturbance from taxis and cars leaving the premises all evening long and the overspill of people walking home.
“I, like many others in the area, moved here to get away from such noise and light pollution which we experienced in our local town.
“There will be severe and negative impact to property values in the area with a noisy entertainment venue within earshot.”
Speaking after the decision to approve the application, Mr Allison explained some of the background.
He said: “Warbreck Garden Centre has been established for in excess of 40 years but acquired by myself in 2009.
“I have been involved in garden centres from a very young age working closely with my parents to develop Lady Green Garden Centre. Lady Green as an independent family business became of the UKs top 5 garden centres. My parents sold the business upon retirement.
“When Warbreck, Lady Green and many other garden centre businesses established through the 80’s they were focused on horticulture. With the advent of DIY sheds and the internet they have had to evolve and broaden their appeal in order to maintain customer footfall all year round in order to survive.
“This resulted in the emergence of coffee shops, gift shops, interior furnishings and concessions. Garden centres had to offer something that the DIY sheds cannot. We can create inspiring displays, offer expert advice and most importantly have a genuine care and interest for our customers.”
“Garden centres have become family orientated leisure destination centres.
“In recent years many small to middle sized centres have been swallowed up by the chains. The reality is that it’s tough to make a living or survive as a small/medium independent these days.
“Whilst Lady Green had a unique appeal and thrived, Warbreck lacked the Wow factor and A road frontage. It simply wasn’t enough to have a garden centre sign by the roadside anymore.
“If you stand still in this industry you sink very fast. I underestimated what a poor state the business was in and how hard it would be without investment. Its losses absorbed my funds which meant that I took loans from family in order to keep the doors open.
“It was decided that our only chance of survival was to have one final throw of the dice and we invested in the new Plantation Restaurant which opened its doors at Easter last year.
“I’m relieved to say that it has had a positive impact on footfall and the business will this year will make its first profit in many years. This business is my livelihood and I’m determined to make it work.
‘Pleasant and inspiring environment’
“My vision for the centre is to create a pleasant and inspiring environment that our local community can be proud to have on their doorstep.
“Now were not fighting for survival, I hope to have the opportunity to start engaging with our neighbours and local community more. If people understand our ethos and vision I’m sure this application would have been met with less suspicion and concern. ”