Chesterfield Garden landscaping company boss defends so-called ‘horrendous’ site – as residents call on council to ‘let business thrive’
Human excrement, beer cans and a campervan occupied an abandoned Chesterfield yard before it was turned into a successful supplier of landscaping materials, the owner said in responding to complaints from residents about storage of garden supplies at the front of the site.
A retrospective application to cover Garden Build, in Newbold Road, erect a fence and sell garden items to the front of the premises has been rejected by Chesterfield Borough Council’s planning committee on the grounds that it was harmful to the street scene and resulted in a loss of parking.
The business was described as an ‘eye-sore’ and residents complained about the latticework fencing to the front of the property and the appearance of sheds and garden sundries stored in an area which was previously used for parking.
However, owner David Hopkinson said he thought the premises had been greatly improved by what he had done there, commenting: ‘When we inherited the site the facade was just an ugly slab of concrete and locals and drug addicts etc just used it for parking. Their cars.”
He said the yard at the old Old Hardy was littered with beer cans and cigarette butts and a campervan was parked there regularly.
Mr Hopkinson remarked that they had even found human excrement in one of the alcoves outside, wondering: ‘Is this really what they want?’
He went on to say that he thought the site was now an “asset”, echoing the view expressed by planning director Helen Frith when she said at the committee meeting on October 10 that she thought it “improved” the street.
During the same meeting, the Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee, Councilor Gordon Simmons, opined that retrospective planning applications, which are permitted under Council policy, “showed two fingers” at authority.
However, Mr Hopkinson said he simply did not know he needed planning permission to store goods at the front of the premises, admitting he had been ‘naive’.
The business was previously based at a larger site known as Riverside Garden Centre, Sheepbridge, but moved to premises in Newbold Road after selling the land.
The owner explained that currently the company is dealing with what he considers to be relatively low level landscaping building materials and there is not a lot of vehicular traffic during the day.
He pointed out that if the company were to go back to being a “dealer of inveterate builders”, there would be an increase in the number of heavy vehicles that would frequent it.
Mr Hopkinson said he would consult with his architects to help him determine the best course of action.
Derbyshire Times Facebook Friends supported the company.
Donna Danielle Stars said: ‘How the hell is it a sore eye now? It was left derelict and unused for years, falling into disrepair. At that time, it was an eye sore. Where is the consternation of advisers then?
Parking was always private and there is always parking available, so really why is that even an issue. We should be supporting businesses moving into old buildings and bringing money to the local economy, not tearing them down.
Fi Newbold added, “Don’t you understand why it’s so awful now? Before yes, when it was a run down brothel.
Tina Harris-Horner said: “Great place, great, friendly people working there as well. I completely renovated my garden with things brought from here. Nothing unsightly about that, let businesses thrive instead of creating problems.
John Stevenson added: “It looks absolutely fine and we also want to see business prosper and not fail because of bullish bureaucracy. What kind of board complains about it?