DUE TO MOVE: Controversial garden centre move approved
The entrance to Whitakers garden centre in Prescot, Image: Google Maps
Controversial plans to move a popular Merseyside garden centre were approved last night.
Whitakers Garden Centre, which is currently located on Liverpool Road in Prescot is due to move out of the town centre to Manchester Road after the owners of the centre, Beesley and Fildes, agreed to give up their current site to make way for a controversial residential development in Prescot.
Speaking at a Knowsley Council planning meeting last night, officers said that while the move goes against part of the council’s local plan, which favours retail premises within the town centre boundaries, the centre’s owners had “exhausted” all other options in Prescot and this was the only way the popular garden centre could stay in the area.
The plans, which include a 2,400 square metre garden centre with plant sale area and cafe with space for up to 105 cars had been objected to by the Coal Coal Authority when the proposals were first submitted.
The proposed site, which is currently concreted over vacant land, was once home to several mines dating back to the 19th century.
At least three mineshafts had been previously detected underneath the surface which had been partially excavated and filled in back in 2002 and the Coal Authority expressed concern there could be further undetected mine shafts other mining hazards at the site.
After a survey was carried out to determine the risk, the authority later removed their objection as long as conditions around remediation, design and layout are met.
Liberal democrat councillor, Frances Wynn, representing Prescot spoke of her concerns about when further investigations would take place over the mining risk and whether this would happen before or after the garden centre vacated their current site.
Responding, council officials said Knowsley Council had “no control” over when Whitakers would leave their current site but that the surveys would need to be carried out before they could commence work on the Manchester Road site.
Cllr. Wynn also expressed concerns about a potential increase in traffic along Manchester Road, saying: “There are too many junctions close together on Manchester road, with a back up of traffic at the lights and junctions” adding that it was already a “busy junction.”
Officers responded to say that a traffic survey had been carried out and it was expected only an additional vehicle per hour would be making use of the road as a result of the opening of the centre.
Councillors then took a vote on the plans, which were approved subject to dozens of conditions, including to carry out the coal mining survey before works could be carried out.
Words: Lisa Rand, Local Democracy Reporter
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