A FORMER garden centre in the green belt near Stone is set to make way for new homes.
Barlaston Garden Centre closed earlier this year after its owners of six years announced their retirement. The Old Road centre, which had been running for 15 years, was also home to a café.
But on Thursday Stafford Borough Council approved plans for the garden centre to be demolished and bungalows built in it place, despite Barlaston Parish Council chairman Gareth Jones’ objections that the residential development was inappropriate for green belt land.
Full details of the housing are yet to be submitted, but indicative plans were provided for the council showing eight bungalows.
The existing vehicle access is set to be closed and a new access off Old Road created, to the north of the current one and 25m away from Barlaston’s village centre.
Nick Smith, speaking in support of the application, told the committee the new development would occupy a space 12.6 per cent smaller than the footprint of the existing garden centre.
“It will reduce the hard standing on the site and improve its character and appearance on the green belt. It is a sustainable location, in close proximity to Barlaston,” he added.
Four responses were received from residents, with objections including the development being out of keeping with the area.
Barlaston Parish Council opposed the plans on the grounds the site was in the green belt and had commercial purpose. The loss of retail space would lead to job losses, and the plans could result in development of agricultural land to the east of the site, it added.
Councillor Jones, also the Barlaston ward councillor for the borough, said: “Development a few years ago of a garden centre is perhaps something appropriate for a rural and green area. To think in terms of eight bungalows is not an appropriate development.”
But the meeting was told that the site was classed as a brownfield (previously developed) site because the retail business had previously operated there.
Councillor Geoff Collier said: “In my own village there is an old car park which is a concrete slab with rubbish all over it because we didn’t give permission to build.
“It takes a lot of money to put a site back to green field; all that Tarmac isn’t just on the surface there is hard core underneath. I think we ought to be going for development on it.”