Planning protest

ANGRY residents are up in arms about plans to build on a garden centre. A planning application has been submitted to Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) to build 64 dwellings on the 4.25-acre site of the Van Hage Garden Centre in Bragbury Lane, Stevenage. But

ANGRY residents are up in arms about plans to build on a garden centre.

A planning application has been submitted to Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) to build 64 dwellings on the 4.25-acre site of the Van Hage Garden Centre in Bragbury Lane, Stevenage.

But one Bragbury Lane resident, Stephen Carpenter, 51, says he feels that the development is "over densely populated" as he believes that as well as the 64 new houses on the site, Van Hage will eventually apply for permission to convert existing barns to create 40 more properties.

He said he is worried about loss of facilities and problems with school places which the new development could bring.


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"I think it's going to have a major impact on the whole community down there," he said.

Mr Carpenter said he is also concerned about the fact that SBC owns some of the land and is due to sell it to Van Hage subject to planning permission, when SBC is the authority which will also be deciding whether or not planning permission should be granted.

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He said he would like to buy the land himself but has been unable to find out how much Van Hage is offering for it.

"I would like to buy it to keep it in its present use as a playground for children," Mr Carpenter said.

Residents are so concerned about the development they are joining together to form an action group.

A spokesman for SBC confirmed that the council owns 2.3 acres of land at the site and that terms have been agreed for Van Hage to buy it, subject to planning permission.

The spokesman said the price was treated as confidential between the two parties, although the council did get external valuation advice.

The spokesman added: "The planning application will be assessed in the usual way following national and local planning policies.

"All comments received about this application will be fully considered and taken into account by the planning committee in making its decision.

"When the council deals with planning applications on land it owns, it always ensures its roles as landowner and local planning authority are entirely separate to avoid any conflict of interest. Funds received from the sale of council land is used in the best interest of the town."

# A spokesman for Van Hage denied that workers on the site would be made redundant. He said: "If the application is successful all staff will be offered alternative employment within the company, either at its Ware store, or at a new garden centre in the area, for which an application is currently being processed.

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