Store chain threatens to axe plan for garden centre in Preston
A discount supermarket is threatening to abandon plans for a garden centre near to Preston Bus Station if council chiefs do not relax restrictions on what it can sell.
B&M Bargains was given the green light last year to build an open air extension at its store overlooking Ringway in the city centre to offer plants, tools and garden equipment.
But the company has now warned it will not go ahead with the project if an "onerous" condition of its planning permission - that at least 85 per cent of the sales area must be made up of plants, shrubs and trees - is not either removed or reduced.
"B&M are currently not prepared to continue with the development (which will create quite a few jobs in the area) because of the condition which states that 85 per cent plant stock is required," said building surveyor Alexander McDowall in a letter to the council.
"My client is reluctant to continue with the onerous weighting attached and would like this to be revised or removed."
The council's planning team approved the plans for an uncovered extension, surrounded by mesh fencing, on the car park of the Ringway store. Around 20 car parking spaces will be lost.
But they attached conditions, one of which which restricted the sale of other typical garden centre products to just 15 per cent of the floor space.
The condition in question said the development should be devoted to the display and sale of plants, shrubs, trees, horticultural products, garden tools, garden equipment, bulbs and seeds.
But a minimum of 85 per cent of the sales area should be plants, shrubs and trees, leaving little or no room for other gardening items.
The company revealed that only 15 per cent of its intended space would be taken up by plants, with more than 50 per cent "garden centre related products" and the rest of it walkways and forklift truck areas.
"Although the stock will always be garden centre related, the plant content will vary according to seasonal preferences," says a report to the planning committee.
"This is an external garden centre which will only sell outside garden centre products. We are looking to hopefully get this condition removed completely or certainly revised to hopefully have a condition for 'a garden centre' which B&M will then proceed to construction."
RISE OF B&M
B&M opened its first store in Cleveleys in 1978 and has grown over the past 43 years into an empire with more than 670 branches in the UK.
The company has 21 stores in Lancashire, four of which are in Preston.
In addition to the one on Ringway, there are B&M branches in Fulwood, Ribbleton Lane and on the Docks - a fifth in St Johns Shopping Centre was closed down when the one on the
Fulwood Central shopping park opened last year. During its expansion B&M has taken over stores from Kwik Save, Woolworths and Focus DIY.