Trentham Gardens £7m retail extension will create 100 jobs
MORE than 100 jobs are to be created at one of the region's leading tourist attractions after extension plans were approved.
Trentham Gardens will see 26 retail units added along with a winery and sports store as part of the £7 million scheme.
Managers confirmed proposals to build 75 holiday lodges close to the Monkey Forest also remain in the pipeline.
Stafford Borough Council yesterday rubber-stamped St Modwen's plans to extend the shopping area.
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However, councillors stopped short of allowing the developer additional time to start the project.
Potteries-based St Modwen, which bought the site in 1996, had asked for planning consent to last for five years due to the current economic climate.
But members sided with officers on implementing a three-year time frame for work to begin.
However Mike Herbert, regional director for St Modwen, said he hoped work would begin as early as next year.
He added: "We are very pleased to have been given planning consent and this enables us to get ready and begin to move forward. The three-year period is workable but I would have preferred five to give us some more flexibility."
Mr Herbert confirmed discussions had already begun with businesses interested in moving into the retail units, winery and sports store.
He said: "Being an existing attraction means we have something to build on and to show to prospective tenants. We've already had some interest."
The scheme will form an L-shape next to the existing retail village and will take up a vacant area and part of an unsurfaced car park.
The winery will sit below the sports retail unit and form an anchor with the garden centre located at the opposite end.
Community leaders have also welcomed the plans but warned a further expansion could result in traffic problems close to the site.
Swynnerton councillor David Price said: "I fully support the proposals that Trentham Gardens have put forward as it is more or less what they said they would do.
"There are problems with traffic, notably when they stage an event.
"There have been queues along the A34 either side of the roundabout.
"I would like to see another entrance point set up along that road to help alleviate any problems."
Around three million people visit the Trentham Estate every year – with 400,000 visitors paying to go into the Italian Gardens.
A decision on the application to build dozens of holiday lodges at the site is expected to be made by the council later this month.