Staff and management at a Bradford garden centre are celebrating after securing planning permission for the next stage of their ambitious growth plans.
Bradford Council’s Regulatory and Appeals Committee unanimously voted to approve Tong Garden Centre’s £4m plans that include a new two storey building, a new plant canopy, a bespoke soft play and event space and the development of the lakeside area with log cabins for educational and horticultural use.
Tong’s managing director Mark Farnsworth said: “We are delighted to have been granted permission to continue with the work that we started three years ago to turn Tong into one of the top destination garden centres in the UK.
“We have had such positive feedback from our customers about our progress so far that we have taken these plans to the council well ahead of our original plan.”
Contractors have been appointed and work will start in January, with plans for the 1811m2 plant canopy to be completed by March and the 1155m2 soft play and event space to be open by the summer.
Mr Farnsworth added: “Whilst we are, and always will be, a garden centre led by gardening products, we will now be so much more than a garden centre. The soft play and events space will be a great addition to our facilities.”
Since Mr Farnsworth and his business partner, Tom Megginson acquired Tong Garden Centre in 2015, they have invested over £2m to improve the centre with a new plant area, the launch of Grass Hoppers adventure playground, a food hall with instore bakery and butchery departments and the creation of a 320 seater restaurant.
The business now provides employment for 160 people and it is anticipated that this will rise to over 200 by the time that the expansion is completed in June 2019.