A PROPOSAL from a garden centre to increase the serving capacity in its cafe has met with opposition.

The Sam Turner and Sons garden centre at Piercebridge has applied to Darlington Borough Council to increase the serving capacity in its cafe from 50 customers at one time to 70.

The application has attracted objections from nearby residents who have expressed concerns that the premises is becoming an out-of-town “destination cafe” to the detriment of smaller businesses nearby.

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In a report prepared for the council's planning committee, one objector said: “Restriction was placed by the planning committee to keep the operation to a size that protected the local amenity, local businesses and restrict traffic flows on a very dangerous road section.

“None of these conditions have changed.”

Other concerns raised by objectors living nearby include an increase in food smells affecting their properties and whether there is enough parking to accommodate extra cafe customers.

Currently the cafe makes up 13 per cent of the garden centre’s overall trade and increasing the serving capacity could see a five per cent growth in that side of the business.

If permission was granted to increase the capacity, the existing café area would not need to be altered as its current size could accommodate the extra customers.

Planning officers have recommended the scheme for approval subject to conditions including the creation of extra parking spaces.

The council’s planning committee will consider whether to grant permission when it meets on Wednesday.