Beckworth Emporium revamp approved despite villager protests
A popular garden centre and food emporium near Sywell has been granted planning permission to grow its business despite protests from nearby villagers.
Beckworth Emporium was last night (August 13) given permission by Wellingborough Council to knock down and renovate pats of its venue and build a new event building as well as new kitchen, store rooms, toilets and a restaurant extension.
Altogether 3,970sq m of existing buildings will be demolished and replaced with 4,300 sq m of new facilities. Parking spaces will also be increased to 510.
Business owner David Brown, who opened the venture on a then derelict site in 2008, said the plans were about ‘modernisation and not expansion’ and said: ‘I’m worried that if we can’t invest then we are going to go backwards quite rapidly.”
The centre, which attracts visitors from across the county and beyond, employs 130 people, has won a variety of awards since it opened and is rated as four and a half stars on TripAdvisor.
However the development plan was fought against by Mears Ashby parish council and local ward councillor Clive Hallam, who had concerns about the impact on Mears Ashby of the increased visitor numbers that would be using Glebe Road.
The garden centre is located close to the junction of Glebe Road and Sywell Road.
All protestors said they were supporters of the venue but nearby road improvements were badly needed.
Cllr Hallam said: “Almost without exception everybody I have spoken to loves Beckworth. There are some genuine concerns though.”
Cllr Hallam said Glebe Road had become a rat run and plans to re-edge the road a few years ago by the highways authority had been dropped because of cuts. He argued permission should have been refused on grounds of over development and that the owner, villagers and councillors should come up with a solution.
The parish council put forward a number of suggestions of how the road could be improved including a mini roundabout, new road signage and notices on the venue’s website to ask visitors not to use Glebe Road.
However Northamptonshire county council, which is the local highways authority had no objection to the development and
Beckworth’s owner also said a traffic survey they had commissioned showed the average speed on the road of 33 mph.
Planning committee member Cllr Andrew Scarborough asked Mr Brown if he was washing his hands of the road issues and said the people of Mears Ashby deserved better from a local business owner.
Most other planning committee members were supportive of the venture. Cllr Griffiths said the business should be supported especially in the current covid times.
Cllr Graham Lawman said it was for the council to take forward the road concerns and fight for improvements.
After an hour long debate the planning committee passed the plans with no conditions for road improvements. Mr Brown said the new improvements could lead to the food emporium taking on an extra 15 to 20 staff.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper when you do your weekly shop.
Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.