Garden centre and retail centre plans approved for Fenton
A HUNDRED jobs are set to be created at a new garden centre and retail outlet.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council's development management committee has approved plans for The Range to open a store in a disused warehouse on land off City Road, Fenton.
The national retailer, which stocks a wide range of garden, home, leisure and sports goods, could be trading from the site as soon as February.
Planning consultant Sally Miles, acting on behalf of The Range, said: "The site has been vacant for some considerable time. There has been very limited interest.
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"The Range is very keen on this retail unit. This will meet their needs.
"They intend to employ 100 people, including 45 permanent members of staff.
"There is a guarantee that all staff will have the opportunity to achieve NVQ level two qualifications in retail.
"The application is going to secure the re-use of the site and bring important job opportunities to the area."
The Range now owns 55 stores across the country, employing more than 2,500 staff nationwide.
It was founded by entrepreneur Chris Dawson, who started out in 1980 as an open air market trader.
The company has featured in The Sunday Times list of the UK's fastest growing companies, while Mr Dawson has been honoured in Management Today's list of Britain's top 100 entrepreneurs.
The Range has already announced its intention to expand the business to 150 stores nationwide over the next few years.
As well as transforming the empty cash and carry warehouse, the plans will see part of the car park used as a garden centre area.
A report to the development management committee said: "The current proposal seeks to gain approval for The Range, which is predominantly a bulky goods operator specialising in home, leisure and garden goods.
"Finding something suitable for them in the city has been quite difficult.
"The Range requires a large format, bulky goods outlet with on-site customer parking.
"This is naturally quite difficult to achieve within the existing centres given the smaller nature of the vacant units or development sites available.
"The Range operates from retail parks across the country and has identified the application site as a suitable and viable location from which to operate their store."
Welcoming the application, Councillor Adrian Knapper, Labour, said: "The Range is very much like Ikea.
"It is a 'destination' shopping location and it will bring people in from outside the city.
"I welcome a national chain coming to Stoke-on-Trent. We need to bring in more major retailers."
Labour councillor Majid Khan said: "I'm more than happy to see the site taken over."
Councillor Andy Platt, also Labour, said: "You have got to be a bit nervous about shopping going out of town, but that warehouse has been there for a long time."