2015 28th April - HHS press release

Children's Farm closure, Play Area closure & ceasing of events/fundraising initiatives announced by us.  We issue a press release & information for staff & customers:

HHS PRESS RELEASE 28 APRIL 2015

Hare Hatch Sheeplands owner Rob Scott admitted this week that the Twyford garden centre is now “fighting for its life”.

This follows Wokingham Borough Council’s decision not to grant the centre a Certificate of Lawful Use for a number of activities on the site and to carry out the enforcement action begun in 2012.

 “The enforcement notice the council has issued is vindictive and draconian. It will affect the entire local community, several charities, small local businesses and a number of young people who work for us & all existing staff. 

The council is forcing Sheeplands to close down its highly popular play area and small farm. In addition the centre will have to remove several of the family run concessions operating within it which will result in job losses.

He said “the council’s demands are so ludicrous that under the guise of protecting the Green Belt they intend to prevent us from selling even a packet of tomato seeds or a garden spade.

“I really wonder if the council planners have thought this through properly,” says Mr.Scott. “Their restrictions mean that we could not invite Father Christmas to visit us for his grotto this year which has raised up to £30,000 for charity since it started.

“If Wokingham Council gets its way we will be left with the shell of a business that is simply not financially viable, with the loss of all jobs and the return of the site to dereliction.”

“I am not exaggerating when I say we have reached a crisis point which could have damaging effects for the community at large, our staff, suppliers and small local business, not to mention depriving our customers of a much loved facility.”

An angry Mr.Scott said “Are our local councillors here to help the people who voted them into office, or are they here to deprive them of facilities that they clearly enjoy and want to continue?

“The council keeps talking about protecting the Green Belt but we have turned a scruffy, run down patch of derelict greenhouses into a facility highly valued locally.”  

“We still have some hope that the council will see sense and scale back some of the more extreme demands,” Mr Scott said.

Mr.Scott claims that local councillors had agreed a plan of action to reach an amicable agreement between the centre & the local planning department “this  they haven't delivered"

Mr.Scott says he is calling on supporters to write to council officials and express their disapproval of their actions.

He also says that he is appalled that the planning department & local councillors have completely disregarded the support shown by 1000s of local people, local suppliers and staff who took the trouble to write to the council expressing their support for us to continue.  They have also ignored a 2400 signature petition & the 100s of people who turned up support us at the abortive enforcement notice appeal.

“It is now essential that our supporters make their views known again to people such as 

The Chief Executive of WBC – Mr Andy Couldrick Andy.Couldrick@wokingham.gov.uk

Head of Development Management and Regulatory Services - Clare Lawrence Clare.Lawrence@wokingham.gov.uk

He says. “It will also help if you contact your local ward councillor and ask your local prospective Parliamentary candidates and lobby for their support.

He added that the centre’s local MP Theresa May, now standing for re-election, “has been extremely helpful. She knows the centre well, knows that her constituents want us to continue and has been doing everything she can to help us. Sadly the planners have also consistently ignored her as they have done with everyone else.”

 

ends