Joy as garden centre plans are turned down

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JUST ONE vote stopped a bid to build a huge garden centre in the middle of the countryside.

Keydell Nursery was set to move from its current site in Horndean to a large farm, off Whichers Gate Road, Rowlands Castle.

Despite planning officers at East Hampshire District Council recommending approval of the application, nine councillors voted against it, with eight for it.

The Strange family, who have owned the business for more than 100 years, immediately instructed their planning consultant to appeal.

More than 80 people objected to the application, with only eight representations in favour of it.

Around 30 objectors who went along to last night’s meeting at Penns Place, burst into applause when the decision was announced.

Speaking against the application, Rowlands Castle Councillor Marge Harvey said she had major concerns about the impact the development would have on the quiet, rural location.

The plan was to create an entrance off Whichers Gate Road and add a third lane, just before a bend, which Cllr Harvey said had seen five fatalities in the past 10 years.

‘Local people want it to stay as a rural area,’ she added.

‘As you can imagine it’s a lovely village and this is the entrance to it. If it goes ahead it will be ruined.

‘Our council rules say we must protect the countryside and we will not be protecting it if this goes ahead. It’s a rural road, why should we change it? Because someone can afford to pay for it?

‘The reasons for moving the nursery from Horndean to Rowlands Castle are ludicrous. You can’t even see it where it is now, all you can see is green.’

Planning officer Adrian Ellis argued that the Highways Authority had given its backing to the new road and said it would be safe.

And he added that the site would be screened on all sides by trees.

The application was refused on the basis that the development and the road widening would be detrimental to the area and the increased traffic would have an adverse impact on users of the nearby rights of way.

Bryan Jezeph, acting on behalf of Keydell, warned the decision would cost the council dearly.

Speaking on behalf of the family, he said: ‘It’s terribly sad, nine to eight. It was so close and means we’re going to have to appeal which will take a lot of time and a lot of money both for Keydell and the council.

‘We reckon it will cost the council in the region of £30,000 - about one person’s yearly salary - and if we win and are awarded costs it will be double that.’