A new destination garden centre is to be built in Gosport, Hampshire. The centre will be the third in the Your Local Garden Centre group that currently includes Mappleborough Green and Stansted Park Garden Centres.
The group is developed and run by experienced industry figure Paul Richards in collaboration with Tim Mason. After several years from concept to design, planning permission for the new centre has just been approved by the local authority.
The 6 acre brownfield site was once an important World War 2 airfield and is adjacent to the Alver Valley Country Park and 17th Century Little Woodham Living History village. There has been a lot of cooperation with Gosport Borough Council and the development will include shared facilities to make it a gateway to the adjacent attractions.
The aim is to continue to work in cooperation with the local council to create a strong visitor attraction in the area. Paul Richards says “The retail world is being painfully disrupted and challenged.
"To compete with on-line, retail now needs to be part of something with visitor appeal. Working with the council is allowing us to be part of what will become a major local attraction for the area.”
The garden centre building will be a multi-span steel portal framed structure with a large feature oak porch frontage, to match the other centres in the group. The objective is to blend the best of modern and traditional building techniques to create a sustainable, attractive and inspiring development.
The main building will be 5,400m² and include a large coffee shop with panoramic views over the plant display areas and country park beyond. Catering will be an important part of the garden centre offer and a separate children’s play area and ice cream bar is planned.
The garden centre will become a central part of the Alver Valley visitor attractions and includes the Alver Valley meeting room available for community meetings and events.
The new centre design will benefit from knowledge learnt building the other centres. “We already have a very successful model and this opportunity to build a brand-new centre allows us to develop the model further and build an even better garden centre. We want to give our customers an exceptional experience” confirms Paul.
Construction is due to start Summer 2021 with opening Spring 2022. It is expected that the garden centre will employ approximately 60 staff. The Alver Valley Garden Centre site sits on the edge of Gosport and a short walk from the coast at Lee-on-the-Solent.
Between them, Richards and Mason have over 70 years’ experience in the garden centre industry. Richards built up the Golden Acres Garden Centre group until selling the business in 2015. Mason was a senior manager at Hillier Nurseries before starting retail consultancy Sea Pop. The “Your Local Garden Centre” business is now the main focus for both Paul & Tim.
Although there may never have been such dramatic changes as those seen in 2020, they remain confident garden centres have a strong future. Tim Mason explains “We have large open retail spaces both inside and out and the main product ranges we sell are helping homeowners enjoy their outside living spaces and build a sense of wellbeing. That will be important for people in the future.”
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