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Planners likely to support opening of new Dobbies

Dobbies’ latest plans for an £8 million garden centre at Orton Grange, south-west of Carlisle, are expected to get the go ahead in principle this week.

The firm, which is owned by Tesco and operates 25 garden centres across the UK, won planning permission for the 18.5-acre site earlier this year.

It has scaled back the design because of the economic downturn but still expects to create 120 jobs.

The indoor sales area is less than half the size of the original design.

Planning officers are recommending that the new scheme is approved by Carlisle City Council’s development control committee, which meets on Friday.

Their report says: “In overall terms, the principle of the development has been established through the approval of the [previous] application.

“There would be no great harm in retail planning terms from permitting this revised proposal.”

If councillors agree and back the plans, they would still have to be approved by the Government Office North West, which could call a public inquiry.

That is unlikely, however, as the Government Office raised no objections to the previous proposal, which councillors approved in principle last November.

The new plans show a 48,200sq ft building housing a sales area, restaurant/café and farm foodhall.

There is a cold house, and outside play and demonstration areas, farmyard pens, a plant sales area and 20 allotments to lease.

The timber-framed building is finished in natural stone and timber cladding, broken up by glazed panels.

Dobbies describes the design as “elegant, contemporary and uncluttered”.

There is a 339-space car park, compared with 409 in the first scheme. A new roundabout would provide access from the A595.

The design includes many ‘green’ features. Rainwater would be recycled to irrigate plants and there would be a biomass heating system. A separate planning application for wind turbines may follow.

Dobbies says that 150 people attended a public exhibition on its plans and that “on the whole” there was support for the principle of development and the specific proposals.

There has been only one objection, from Dalston parish council, which says the garden centre is still too big and “inappropriate for the area”.

The plans have been tabled jointly by Dobbies and Linton Tweeds. Linton Tweeds owns the site and nearby Westwood Nurseries, which would supply the garden centre.

Source : Julian Whittle - News & Star

13 July 2010
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