Inquiry told that new centre would spoil countryside

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A PROPOSED new garden centre will ‘dwarf’ other buildings on the site, a public inquiry has heard.

The Strange family, which owns Keydell Nurseries, in Horndean, wants to move the business to Mays Coppice Farm, Whichers Gate Lane, Rowlands Castle.

But there has been huge opposition against it with the plans turned down by East Hampshire District Council, twice.

Now it has gone before the government’s planning inspector, Andrew Pykett, who is heading a three-day inquiry at St John’s Church Hall, in the village, and hearing evidence from Keydell, the district council and Rowlands Castle Parish Council.

The district council objects to the plans on the grounds of the impact it would have on the countryside.

Additionally, the parish council objects because of the effect it would have on roads.

In his opening statement Peter Towler, who is representing Keydell, said fears over extra traffic were unfounded because the current and proposed sites are fairly near each other and ‘the bulk of the traffic is already within the network’.

Mr Towler explained the proposed move was prompted by the district council including the Horndean site in its core strategy as a site for a substantial number of new homes.

He said the core strategy has been suspended because the council is not able to put forward enough land for its housing need.

He said the Keydell site was a key component of that need.

Mr Towler said: ‘It is our submission that this development can sit sympathetically within the existing landscape.’

But this was rejected by Scott Stemp, acting on behalf of East Hampshire District Council, who said: ‘This proposal will be seen from most vantage points.

‘These structures, compared with existing agricultural structures, will dwarf those existing buildings in the distance.

‘That will have a detrimental impact on the visual amenities and the intrinsic qualities of the countryside.’

Keydell wants to build two main buildings, a glass house and a car park for 250 and 150 space overflow site.