Plan for horticultural lab on Tree House Restaurant site

A PLAN to turn a former family restaurant in St Brelade into a secure horticultural laboratory is due to be decided upon by the Planning Committee this week.

Picture: COLLETTE BISSON (31241178)
Picture: COLLETTE BISSON (31241178)

The Tree House Restaurant and La Marquanderie pub closed in March 2020 after a drop in custom led to the business making a £2 million loss. Following this the company was sold by a subsidiary of the Liberation Group to La Marquanderie Holdings.

Kevin Welford, a representative of the new owners, initially submitted a plan to open a car dealership on the green-zone site but withdrew it following a public backlash.

Since then, he has submitted another application – this time for a horticultural laboratory.

The plans originally included installing a 2.4-metre-high security fence around part of the site – although this is no longer the case – and rooms referred to in the submitted proposals include a breeding research nursery, dry store and analytics lab. No new buildings would be constructed.

An extract from the original design statement accompanying the application says: ‘While there is a presumption against development of land within the green zone it is noted that we do intend to retain the existing building and, while we are applying for a change of use, we do wish to keep this land as economical use land.’

Gary Palmer, the planning officer in charge of the application, has recommended it for approval.

Within his report for the Planning Committee, he says: ‘The proposed use would retain an employment use on the site, support a new business and would support the horticultural industry. While the loss of the pub and restaurant premises is regrettable the premises are currently not in operation as a pub and alternative provision of community facilities are available nearby.’

He added: ‘There is no policy to require the retention of tourist facilities. The proposal would not result in material harm, is in accordance with the Island Plan and is therefore acceptable.’

Despite this several members of the public have lodged objections. One of those, John O’Connell, said: ‘It is disappointing to lose another hospitality venue not only in Jersey but also in St Brelade’s Bay – it is such an incredible site which should, in my opinion, be kept for public use. Surely a laboratory can be set up at a more private location, away from a well-used road and access to the bay.’

The meeting is due to take place at St Paul’s Centre on Thursday at 9.30am. Members of the public can attend.

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