Historic Gosforth garden centre fears demolition if housing plan gets green light

A historic Newcastle garden centre fears it may be demolished if plans for a new housing development scheme get the go ahead

The Garden and aquatic center next to Goforth park that is under threat of closure, owner John Tubman
The Garden and aquatic center next to Goforth park that is under threat of closure, owner John Tubman

A garden centre and aquatics business fear they will be swept away by plans for upmarket housing linked to a development scheme for Newcastle Racecourse.

The scheme, by Arena Racing Company, will go before Newcastle city councillors next week.

Plans to build a total of 14 homes on the nearby north and south walled garden sites next to the Marriott Hotel have been withdrawn because of the need for further bat surveys of the area.

But the council expects that the housing applications will be resubmitted.

The walled gardens served the 18th Century Brandling Hall, which is part of the racecourse.

The south garden has been leased for 22 years by John Tubman, who runs the North East Koi and Aquatics business as well as the garden centre with business partner John Soulsby. The site is on green belt land.

Mr Tubman said that he has invested £100,000 over the years in the site.

He said: “There is a lot of history here. The garden was the site of tea rooms before the Second World War and people would catch a tram from Newcastle to visit.

“It is a site which also has a lot of wildlife, from red squirrels to deer.

“The housing plans came out of the blue. We are very upset and our customers are up in arms.

“If housing is built then everything will go. I fear that if developers get a foothold then they will go on to build on adjacent fields.”

Mr Soulsby, who joined the garden centre business last year, has set up an allotment club with monthly advice talks to gardeners.

He said: “We have built up a good customer base but all that will be finished.”

Arena Racing declined to comment.

The scheme, which goes to the city’s planning committee on April 11, seeks permission for the replacement of the existing turf flat track at Newcastle Racecourse with an all-weather track.

The proposal includes 44 floodlighting columns varying in height from 21.3m to 38m, a glass enclosure to the Park View Stand to create a new restaurant, a new racecourse maintenance barn and horse walk with lighting. The plans are recommended for approval.

The planning application was initially included demolition of the Silver Ring Stand and bar and the Champagne Bar, the building of a saddling enclosure and erection of eight homes in the north walled garden and six in the south garden with demolition of the garden centre buildings.

Planners say: “These elements have been removed from the application due to the requirement for the undertaking of further bat surveys which are only able to be carried out between May and September. The applicant has indicated that they will submit a new planning application for the elements that have been removed from this application following the undertaking of the further bat surveys.”

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