A popular garden centre is to get a full makeover after major redevelopment plans were approved at the latest planning meeting. 

Dobbies Garden Centre in Shinfield will demolish all existing buildings and reconstruct the site, having been given the green light by Wokingham Borough Council. 

All current outbuildings and structures will make way for the consolidation of the garden centre into one new building, as well as alterations to the car park, access and landscaping of the area. 

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The current site, which is 2.95 hectares, comprises of the existing Dobbies Garden Centre, associated car parking and a vacant residential property. 

The new development, situated on Hyde End Road, will include a new retail centre, restaurant/café, children’s soft play area and veterinary practice. 

A staggered closing of the premises will occur as trade will be able to continue at the front for the majority of the construction phase. 

Nearby neighbours were consulted on the development, particularly regarding improvements to the access point from Hyde End Road. Due to the poor visibility and layout of the junction, a new staggered right-turn will be installed, which aims to improve visibility, provide a right turn facility and be safer for pedestrians. 

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There will also be a new cycle way along the front of the site, which will link in with the council’s proposals to extend a safe cycling route along Hyde End Road. 

The proposal states that the development will generate employment opportunities, both full and part-time, with the aim of filling these positions via the local workforce. 

The applicant plans to increase the full-time staff from 12-22 employees and increase part-time positions from 16- 31 employees.  

Councillors gave the proposal unanimous approval following a relatively short presentation and discussion. 

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Committee member, Councillor Stephen Conway, said: “This to me seems like an improvement on what was there. There are no objections from the town or parish councils, or from the borough council or any residents. 

“I think this is an application we can support wholeheartedly.” 

Many residents even registered their approval for the plans in the application, with one stating that it’s “just as critical to show support for what you want to see as to object to things you don’t.” 

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Local resident, Richard Crow, said: “The existing Dobbies Garden Centre has been in need of upgrading for several years.  

“This proposal seems to accomplish this objective and will bring increased employment to the area. Anything that stops more land in Shinfield being used for housing gets my support. 

Dobbies, a Scottish company founded in 1865 in Renfrew, is the leading horticultural retailer in the UK with 73 garden centres across the UK.