Judgment day for Rowlands Castle garden centre plans

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a large garden centre on the outskirts of Rowlands Castle are set to be approved tonight.

Councillors have been recommended by planning officers to vote to give the go-ahead to plans for the garden centre, greenhouse and a 250-space car park at Mays Coppice Farm, off Whichers Gate Road.

The plans have been put forward by Keydell Nurseries, which is looking to relocate from its site in Horndean.

A total of 109 written objections have been submitted to East Hampshire District Council, along with a petition with 146 signatures.

There have been 31 letters of support for the plans.

As reported, the proposals were turned down in a knife-edge vote last year despite the planning officer’s recommendation to grant permission.

The new plans include a smaller retail building, which has been reduced from 11,690sq m to 10,855sq m.

The plans have been opposed by local councillor Marge Harvey and Rowlands Castle Parish Council.

A statement from the parish council said: ‘It would represent a major element of urbanisation in this otherwise rural area.’

Concerns have also been raised about increased traffic on the rural roads, but developers have agreed to contribute £160,000 to help manage traffic on Whichers Gate Road.

The firm has dismissed claims a greenhouse would cause light pollution, arguing the lights will be turned off when the premises are closed.

The meeting takes place at Penns Place, Petersfield, from 6.30pm.