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Chesterfield garden landscaping firm boss defends so called ‘eyesore’ site – as residents call on council to ‘let business thrive’
Human excrement, beer cans and a camper van occupied a derelict Chesterfield builders’ yard before it was transformed into a thriving landscaping materials supplier, the owner claimed as he responded to residents’ complaints about garden supplies being kept at the front of the site.
A retrospective application to reclad Garden Build, in Newbold Road, erect a fence and sell garden items at the front of the premises was rejected by Chesterfield Borough Council’s Planning Committee on grounds that it was harmful to the street scene and resulted in a loss of parking .
The business was described as an ‘eyesore’, and residents complained about the mesh fence at the front of the property and the appearance of the sheds and garden sundries stored in an area that was previously used for parking.
The business site on Newbold Road, Chesterfield.
However owner David Hopkinson said he thought the premises had been greatly improved by what he had done to it, commenting: “When we inherited the site the front was just a horrible concrete slab and local people and drug users etc were using it just to park their cars.”
He said the former Old Hardy’s yard was littered with beer cans and cigarette butts and a camper van was being parked there regularly.
Mr Hopkinson remarked that they even found human excrement in one of the alcoves outside, questioning: “Is that what they really want?”
He continued that he thought the site was now an ‘asset’, echoing the opinion expressed by chief planning officer Helen Frith when she said in the committee meeting on October 10 that she thought it ‘enhanced’ the street.
Newbold Road, Chesterfield.
In the same meeting, planning committee vice chairman Councilor Gordon Simmons gave the opinion that retrospective planning applications, which are permitted under council policy, were ‘sticking two fingers up’ at the authority.
However Mr Hopkinson said he simply hadn’t known he needed planning permission to store goods on the front of the premises, admitting he had been ‘naive’.
The business had previously been based at a larger site known as the Riverside Garden Centre, in Sheepbridge, but had moved to the Newbold Road premises after they sold the land off.
The owner explained that at the moment the business dealt with what he classed as relatively low level landscaping building supplies and didn’t get a lot of vehicular traffic during the day.
He pointed out that if the business was to revert back to being a ‘hard core builders’ merchants’ there would be an increase in the number of heavy vehicles frequenting it.
Mr Hopkinson said he was going to consult with his architects to help him determine the best course of action.
Derbyshire Times Facebook friends supported the business.
Donna Danielle Stars said: “How on Earth is it an eye sore now? It was left abandoned and unused for years just falling into disrepair. At that point it was an eye sore. Where’s the councillors dismay then?
The parking was always private and there’s still parking available so why truly is this even an issue. We should be supporting business coming into old buildings and bringing money to the local economy not put them down.”
Fi Newbold added: “Don’t understand why it’s an eyesore now? Before yes, when it was a boarded up dilapidated mess.”
Tina Harris-Horner said: “Great place, great friendly people who work there too. Got all my garden fully renovated with things brought from here. Nothing unsightly about it, let businesses thrive instead of making problems.”
John Stevenson added: “Looks absolutely fine and we want too see business thrive not fail due to red tape bull. What sort of plank complains about this.”