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Van Hage and Waitrose unveil plans for joint development

Published: 20 March 2014
Plans have been revealed that would see Waitrose incorporate a new supermarket on the site of the Van Hage garden centre at Great Amwell, Hertfordshire.
Van Hage and Waitrose unveil plans for joint development
Waitrose is seeking planning permission for the development, and the proposals will go on show at a public exhibition next week.

The project would include the building of a new 25,000sq ft Waitrose supermarket, an improved car park to increase the number of spaces and with the potential for further spaces should demand require, and an extension to the Van Hage garden centre.

Van Hage, which has sales of £16.2m, would create a new 100-seater café to provide a better service and modern facilities, and the existing external toilet block would be replaced with new facilities inside the Van Hage store.

A refurbishment programme would also be undertaken, including a new lobby and front elevation, while the traditional Van Hage offerings of the miniature railway, farmers' market, circus, ice rink and zoo would remain. The garden centre would stay open while the construction work went on.

Van Hage is reported to be keen to partner with a supermarket on its site and believes Waitrose's values are the perfect fit with its own.

Waitrose said: "Delivering an improved Van Hage store alongside a Waitrose supermarket can provide substantial benefits for the area, including more retail choice for local residents and new jobs.

"In the event Waitrose is successful with a future planning application in Great Amwell, it is likely to relocate its existing store in Hertford to the new store." At 12,500sq ft, that branch is only half the size of that planned at Van Hage.

A public exhibition of the plans will be held in Van Hage's coffee shop next Friday and Saturday March 28 and 29. If planning permission is granted the development should be completed in 2016.

It now seems likely that it was Van Hage's plans, kept under wraps until now, which sparked the rumours circulating last month that the garden centre had been sold or merged, and even that it was about to close down.

Speculation was so rife that the business put a statement on its website denying the reports, adding: "In these highly competitive times we have been looking at options to extend and expand the facilities here and have been considering plans to secure a future investment programme. Potential new and exciting developments will be published shortly when plans are finalised and we are in a position to move forward."

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