A public consultation on proposals to build a premium garden centre in Alnwick has revealed support for the development.

Earlier this year, Northumberland Estates and centre operator, Blue Diamond, disclosed plans to build a brand-new, high-quality garden centre on land at Cawledge to the east of the A1 near Alnwick. The proposal was the subject of a public consultation that ran from July 27 to August 24, 2023, giving local people a chance to voice their opinions.

A garden centre would be a welcome addition to Alnwick, according to more than 74% of respondents, and 73% supported efforts to increase the area’s retail options.

The new garden centre will be occupied by Blue Diamond. Blue Diamond, one of the largest garden centre companies in the UK, operates 44 garden centres across the country and on the Channel Islands. The garden centre includes facilities for outdoor and indoor plants as well as areas for gardening products, leisure and homeware, and outdoor furniture. The site has a total internal floor area of 8,130 sq. m, and its external plant sales area is 3,400 sq. m.

The store which represents an investment of around £13m from Northumberland Estates is expected to attract a significant footfall, create over 150 new full and part-time jobs, and further enhance Alnwick’s reputation as a destination for retail, leisure, food, and hospitality.

The proposals will broaden the range of retail options available to Alnwick residents and those living nearby, and the occupier has committed to purchasing local goods whenever possible, which Northumberland Estates is keen to promote.

Director of planning and development for Northumberland Estates, Colin Barnes, stated: ” Our objective is to have the premier garden centre in the Northeast situated here in Alnwick and we are pleased that there has been strong support for our proposals.

“A key part of our business objectives is to decarbonise some of our major assets, and we were pleased to see several respondents ask whether the project would incorporate renewable energy. EV charging, rainwater harvesting, and solar panels are being considered as options for the development and will be addressed in the planning application. To improve traffic flow, a new roundabout at the junction of Shilbottle Road, funded by development in the area, including the Garden Centre, is scheduled for construction in 2024.”

The consultation website ran from 27 July to 24 August 2023. 189 people responded and 71% were in favour of the garden centre and retail development on the site. A full planning application is expected to be submitted in 2024.