Bents Garden & Home has had plans approved to develop a Cookery School, School of Horticulture and half an acre of Apothecary’s Garden at the family owned and run centre, in Glazebury near Warrington.
The plans were prepared by the Malcolm Scott Consultants team.
Bents hopes the plans will create up to 52 new job opportunities, are part of the company’s forward-thinking approach as they monitor the continued rise in internet sales, which have seen both high street and out of town retailers suffer.
Focusing upon the service side of retailing the new attractions will offer customers hands on experience and learning from the Centre’s own restaurant Chefs and Horticultural Specialists. Both Schools will run courses for customers as well as providing a much needed in-house training facility for Bents’ colleagues.
The Apothecary Garden will feature over 200 different culinary herbs and medicinal plants with an emphasis upon promoting wellbeing. The Garden will also provide a quiet place for local people who would benefit from such an environment such as those with dementia (Bents Garden & Home raised over £22,000 in 2017 for the Alzheimer’s Society and continues to work towards becoming a Dementia Friendly Centre).
Plants and gardens still remain the core focus of the business as this is not only where they have 80 years of experience and their 6 acre nursery to back up their plant offer, but also it is an area where the likes of Amazon have yet to enter the market.
Plans also include a glass structure cover the existing decking area and an extension to the kitchen and catering facilities required to cope with the growing demand for freshly prepared food; something which Bents has been committed to since it established its first Balcony Coffee Shop in the eighties. To create a unique point of difference the plans incorporate Bents’ ambition to develop a ‘smokery’ for curing fish within their own kitchens.
Says Matthew Bent, Managing Director at Bents Garden & Home: “Our latest plans are a combination of both functional requirements to better serve our customers from catering point of view, but also an extension of our vision to create a place of learning for garden lovers of any experience.
“Our family business was not only born from a love of gardening, but also because my grandfather was advised to take a job outside due to health reasons; gardening provided the perfect solution. We have seen this first hand with the success of our community allotments and we have long been focussed on introducing gardening to the younger generation with our Garden Explorers club. We now want to extend this expertise, enthusiasm and knowledge to a wider audience.”
Chris Primett, Director at Malcolm Scott Consultants, said: “This is a really exciting initiative which will set Bents apart from the competition. The vision of Matthew and the team at Bents shows just how forward-thinking the centre is, and this takes the site’s offering to a whole new level. We’re delighted to have been involved in drawing up the scope for the project and in overseeing the planning process on the centre’s behalf – and we’re really looking forward to watching the plans brought to fruition.”
Bents is looking to become a ’Gardening Hub’ in the northwest promoting the region to tourists and day visitors building upon the rich heritage of such gardens as Arley Hall and Gardens near Northwich, Dunham Massey Garden, West Manchester, Norton Priory and Gardens near Runcorn, Tatton Park Gardens and the new RHS Garden Bridgewater in Worsley.
Development will commence in early 2019.