"Underperforming nursery" to become caravan park
A plan to convert an "underperforming nursery" into a site for 40 static caravans is being backed by planning officers.
The proposal, for change of use to land at Burford Nurseries, Burford, near Tenbury Wells, is being recommended for approval by Shropshire Council planning officials.
The authority's planning committee will decide whether to give the plan the go-ahead at its meeting at Shirehall in Shrewsbury on Tuesday January 15.
If given the green light then the plans would see the existing garden centre and polytunnels demolished, and a site for 40 static caravans created in its place.
The local council has objected to the plan, saying it would like to see the site revert to horticultural use.
A report prepared by planning officer Andrew Sierakowski states: "Burford Parish Council has objected to the application. Its comments that the original application for the existing horticultural use was for a horticultural growing nursery which was subsequently changed to a retail use, and a café added, which was only opened for a short while. It comments that the Parish Council objected at the time and now feels that this site should revert to horticultural use or even industrial use."
Mr Sierakowski's report outlines how the premises would retain its cafe building for use by the caravan business.
It states: "This application seeks planning permission for the change of use of land from a retail garden centre to a holiday park comprising demolition of the existing garden centre and polytunnels, the siting of 40 static caravans, alterations to the access, the construction of internal roads and parking, provision of a play area, and the retention of an existing cafe building as a reception, cafe-bistro, park shop and first floor warden’s accommodation, and landscaping."
The application has been submitted by Worcester Caravan Sales which owns and operates a number of caravan parks.
The report adds: "The application states that the Burford Nurseries is an underperforming nursery which is no longer able to compete with larger modern nurseries and destination garden centres and that the site was accordingly placed on the market for sale in 2017. The owner has been unable to find a purchaser interested in retaining the nursery business and as a result, it has been sold to the applicant who now intends redevelop the site as a holiday park."
Under the plans the existing main central access to the site would be closed and the existing secondary access at the north eastern corner would be used.
Mr Sierakowski's report states: "The applicant’s transport consultant has advised that this would be a safer point of entry and exit with better sightlines. To further improve the sightlines the existing hedge will be replanted and located further back from the road."
However, there have been a number of complaints from members of the public, concerned about the safety of the proposed access.
The report states: "There is also concern that there have been a number of accidents, including several fatal accidents within a few hundred yards of the proposed entrance. Local residents have campaigned to have the speed limit extended to cover what is a dangerous and accident-prone stretch of road and would like to see an extension of the 40mph speed limit to include both sides of the proposed entrance and the properties further up the road, to slow down traffic."
A design and access statement prepared by GVA Grimley Limited acting on behalf of Worcester Caravan Sales said: "Currently the site is in use as a garden centre and nursery that is no longer viable in the face of larger destination garden centres, such as the nearby Burford House Garden Centre.
"The proposal would replace this ailing business with a high quality holiday park that will bring in tourists from a much wider geographic to the area that may not have otherwise visited bring new tourist accommodation which appears to be unique to the local area and will help boost spending at the shops, pubs and restaurants in the nearby settlements of Burford and Tenbury Wells which are all facing the challenges of adapting to changing consumer habits brought on by the internet age.
"Given that the site is currently in use as a nursery, it is not considered that the number of visitors to the site specifically would increase due to the proposed use for holiday caravans. An analysis of peak travel generation concludes that the peak traffic generated by the holiday lodges is likely to be far less than that generated by the nursery when fully operational, particularly at weekends. The cumulative impact of the proposed caravan site in replacing the established nursery would not harm the natural or historic assets of the area, road network, and would not be over intensification of the site, particularly as only half of the site is going to be occupied with caravans."