PLANS for a commercial garden nursery in County Durham have been thrown out by council planners over highway safety fears.

Last year, plans were lodged with Durham County Council for land opposite Stockerley House in the Lanchester ward.

This included changing the use of mixed woodland and grazing land into a garden nursery offering fruit and vegetables to contractors and the public.

Temporary polytunnel greenhouse structures were included in the planning application, with a site access proposed from Stockerley Lane.

Applicants also hoped to use the centre to encourage people to grow food in their own back gardens, by offering plant and garden supplies.

A business plan submitted to the council said: “We feel that this is the perfect time to start our own garden nursery.

“With the withdrawal from the European Union and fresh produce shortages and increasing tariffs forecasted in the news, what better time to grow our own fruit and vegetables and enable the British people to have access to fresh home grown produce and also the option to grow food in their own back yard.

“During the last year, garden centres and nurseries have been very popular, with more people working from home and showing a greater interest and taking more pride in their own gardens and outdoor spaces.”

The statement added: “The nursery is located on [Stockerley Lane] on the former site of Woodside Drift Mine which in 1991 closed making 40 employees redundant. Our aim is to bring back some employment to the site.”

According to planning documents, the ‘Woodside Nursery’ development was expected to create two full-time jobs.

During consultation, Durham County Council’s highways officer raised concerns about the site access, describing it as “severely substandard.”

The introduction of visits by nursery customers, staff and deliveries generated by the proposed access, the council officer added, would also be “prejudicial to highway safety.”

While noting the economic benefits from the proposed garden nursery, Durham County Council’s planning department refused the plans on Tuesday, January 12.

Planners said the garden nursery would have an “unacceptable impact on highway safety as a safe and suitable access for the site cannot be achieved.”

Other refusal reasons included the site “lacking in sustainable transport options” and that the development was not “essential infrastructure or water compatible.”

The decision notice added: “Whilst the development is acceptable in principle it does not accord with other relevant development plan policies in terms of highways safety, sustainable transport and water management and therefore cannot currently be supported.”