2013 - 27 Aug - WBC Press release

Wokingham Borough Council believes the protection of the green belt is of paramount importance and this is what drives the enforcement action being taken against the owners of Hare Hatch Garden Centre.
Back in in October 2012, the borough council served an enforcement notice on the owners against 16 breaches of planning control. This meant that the owners of Hare Hatch Garden Centre had changed the previous horticultural nurseries into a garden centre without planning permission. It had numerous retail and storage uses taking place along with a café and hot food outlets, a children’s play area and additional car parking areas - none of which had planning permission that were required.
A public inquiry to consider this matter was due to take place in May but was adjourned until October due to the key council witness being unwell.

However, since then, further breaches have occurred including the display and sale of building materials, barbecues, patio furniture and windows and the council has had no option but to issue a new enforcement notice that reflects the latest position.

As a result of these further breaches of control and the new enforcement notice, the public inquiry has been postponed again and a new date will be announced in the coming weeks.

The owner of the garden centre has expressed concern about the loss of jobs for his employees and the council understands the impact the enforcement notice has on the viability of the business. However, this business has developed over time in an unauthorised manner. It is the responsibility of the owner of the business to obtain the necessary consents and this has not been done. 

Clare Lawrence, head of development management, said: “The position is regrettable but the site is located in the greenbelt and the council must protect the open character and cannot support harmful unauthorised development.                                   

“It is disappointing that despite the previous enforcement notice, the business has undertaken further unauthorised development that has led to the further notice being issued.

“Any relaxation of greenbelt policy that cannot be justified by exceptional planning circumstances would encourage many others to try and build on the green belt. The appeal inspector will decide if the proposal has exceptional circumstances or not.“The council has always tried to negotiate with the owners and will continue to do so. Enforcement is always the last resort and we only with regret take this route when we feel there is nowhere else to go.”

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Further information:

More from Clare Lawrence, head of development management, on (0118) 974 6444 or email: clare.lawrence@wokingham.gov.uk.