Final decision on £14m Tingley garden centre plans expected this week

Planning chiefs will decide this week whether to allow a new £14m garden centre to be built in south Leeds, following concerns around environment and public transport.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 5:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 5:36 pm

The company behind Tong Garden Centre wants permission to build a brand new garden centre and soft play area at the former Acanthus Golf Club off Thorpe Lane in Tingley which is expected to provide up to 250 jobs.

A document, written by Leeds City Council licensing chiefs, had recommended the site is approved in principle by councillors at a meeting in April, but a decision was put on hold, due to concerns from the fact the site technically sits in the green belt, and that it appeared to only be accessible by car.

To remedy this, council planning officers have suggested the developers contribute £150,000 for “off-site biodiversity improvements within the city”, a “travel plan” and initiatives to employ local people.

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The car park at the former golf club. (Pic: Google maps)

The document states: “A Travel Plan has been prepared by the applicant and the findings have been influenced by surveys that have been carried out at Tong Garden Centre.

“Tong Garden Centre is run by the applicant of this proposal and is located within a rural setting that is comparable to the subject site. The bus services and frequencies are similar with Tong Garden centre being approximately 700 metres from the nearest bus stop and this proposal being 850 metres from the bus stop to the front entrance.

“The applicant has confirmed willingness to enter into a Section 106 Agreement, which will relate to the financial contribution of £150,000 towards the provision of six biodiversity units (this provides a scheme that is policy compliant and that achieves a net gain in biodiversity), together with clauses seeking local employment initiatives and the implementation of the proposed travel plan.”

It added that, of the 150 members of staff employed at Tong Garden Centre, more than two thirds of staff travel less than five miles to get to work.

The report concluded: “The applicant has provided various supporting information to ensure that the concerns raised by panel members have been addressed.

“The supporting information further supports the original recommendation that the proposal does represent a sustainable form of development through the provision of a range of social, economic and environmental improvements to the site and wider area.”

Plans submitted to the council last year include a garden centre with a restaurant, landscaping and car parking spaces for 612 vehicles. Outdoor adventure play areas are also included, which the applicant claims can help “tackle childhood obesity”.

A meeting of Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel will meet to discuss the plans on Thursday, June 3.