The £1 million conversion of a horticultural glasshouse to a Garden Centre restaurant at Newcastle’s Plantsplus Garden Centre is close to being unveiled.

The nursery was acquired by Nick Crabbie, owner of Berwick Garden Centre, in 2016 and steps were quickly taken to expand the site’s retail offering.

Garden centre specialists Malcolm Scott Consultants were instructed to look at the feasibility of converting a 3,000 sq m glasshouse into a retail and restaurant space, and tasked with obtaining planning permission and gaining building regulations approval for the project.

Chris Primett, of MSC, said: “This was an exciting idea put forward by Nick Crabbie, who was keen to expand the Plants Plus offering and enhance the visitor experience at the site.

“Nick has enjoyed enormous success with his other UK centres, Berwick and Dunbar Garden Centres, and recognised the potential to capitalise on Plantsplus’ existing benefits and create an improved customer experience to increase footfall and drive sales”.

“With Plantsplus being located within the Green Belt, we prepared and submitted a detailed planning application, permission was granted for a change of use and fit-out of the glass houses for retail use, to include a 250-seat restaurant.

“Having worked with Nick since 1994, we’re delighted to have been involved in his latest venture and look forward to seeing the facility when it’s fully operational,” he added.

Nick Crabbie added: “Getting permission for this project will have a huge impact on the site – the provision of heated retail space and new restaurant are expected to double turnover in the first year of operation and reach combined sales of over £2m within three years”.

“The principle of running a commercial nursery, supplying a range of plants for all three garden centres, alongside a retail and catering operation is planned to give the business a competitive edge”.

“Working with the MSC team is always rewarding; Chris and Alex are always full of ideas while retaining a firm grip on objectives, and this scheme is no exception,” he added.

The restaurant is expected to open next month and will create 15 new jobs.