UK's largest garden centre to be built at Scotch Corner off A1 after councillors give it thumbs up

A plan to build UK’s largest garden centre has been given the thumbs up after councillors heard it was integral to the development of the North’s leading leisure and retail destination.

An artist's impression of how the garden centre will look

Despite members of Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee initially raising concerns about the impact of the 10,761sq m Blue Diamond garden centre at Scotch Corner on nearby traders, after a lengthy debate all but one eventually agreed it would boost the local economy in the long-term.

Due to the scale of the proposal across arable farmland beside the A1(M) and A66, which features some 624 parking spaces, a farmers market-style food hall, indoor play, convenience goods and “a huge variety of lifestyle products”, the decision will now need to be approved by the government.

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Located on a wider 100-acre site, also owned by Scotch Corner Richmond LLP, the developer has previously secured permission to build a designer outlet which is due to open in Spring 2023. The developer also has ambitions for further leisure and sporting facilities, a hotel, drive-thru food offer, petrol filling station and employment units at the site.

The meeting heard while some business leaders had claimed some of the products that would be sold at the garden centre would hit trade in Richmond, Catterick Garrison, Darlington and Northallerton, the consensus among members was that it would not be too detrimental.

The committe’s chairman Councillor John Amsden said : “These objections were about business competition and we can’t do anything about that as it is not a planning rule. It is everybody for himself in a sense.

“This application is tied in within the designer centre, so one cannot go without the other. They want to build the designer outlet and garden centre together. They more or less said they can’t go ahead with one and not the other.”

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Amsden said when works to upgrade the A66 were completed, the Scotch Corner developments would be a good attraction for the area.

He said: “I can remember Scotch Corner when it was just a straight road and on Blue Bell Corner there was a pub. It has been on the map for years now and we can’t just keep standing still.

“If this development hadn’t gone there it could have gone somewhere else, such as Leeming Bar in Hambleton. As a district we have got to think ahead and we have got the opportunity at Scotch Corner, it could be a good investment area. It’s going to be a very popular area to visit in the long term.”

The meeting was told the garden centre would create up to 180 new jobs, 80 of which would be full-time.

Coun Amsden said: “Richmond has got to have developments for the benefit of the whole district in terms of tourism and with Catterick Garrison getting bigger we are going to need more employment.”

After agreeing to insist on more electric car charging points and hearing the garden centre would feature enough solar panels to make it virtually self sufficient in power, members voted to approve the plan, subject to resolving concerns over a roundabout with highways officers and agreeing measures to avert flooding.