Tweaks to plans for the Marple urban farm could see consent granted, allowing its owner to bid for lottery backing to support the attraction’s full development.
Stockport’s planning committee meets on 16 December with a recommendation from officers to approve a part-retrospective change-of-use application at Garden House, potentially bringing to an end a series of wrangles over the site’s operation.
As Place North West reported in August, constructive dialogue has grown throughout 2021 after years of the Lakes Road attraction existing in a planning limbo due to the site having opened in 2015 before its application had been considered.
The Garden House has operated ever since, appealing both planning rejections and enforcement notices and becoming popular, particularly with learning disabilities groups.
The main differences in the fresh application lodged in summer by advisor Emery Planning, say officers, are that the applicant is no longer seeking to retain the children’s nursery which has been operating at the site, while unapproved storage containers and tented structures will be or are being removed.
The main thrust of the 16-acre project is the redevelopment of the Garden House building to provide permanent visitor amenities and educational facilities, along with managers’ accommodation. Once operational, temporary toilet and site management blocks can be removed.
Broadly, the plans represent a professionalisation of a charitable, trustee-run attraction that has proved able to mobilise support over the course of its ad hoc existence: 61 submissions have been made in support of this bid, with 12 against.
Establishing its legitimacy is critical: in order to pay for the development project, the applicant said that support from the Heritage Lottery Fund is “essential” but an application cannot be made without planning permission being in place.
The professional team also includes heritage advisor Randfield Associates, Urban Green, Focus Transport and flood risk expert Peter Mason Associates.