Paul Maddicott, owner of U.K.-based Dainton Self Storage, has scrapped plans to convert the former Rock Farm Nursery in Chudleigh, England, into an upscale farm shop and garden center. Despite a swell of support from community residents and Chudleigh officials, he’s abandoning the project due to lack of progress with planners with the Teignbridge District Council, according to the source.
The project was due to be patterned after the popular Darts Farm, a farm-to-store business concept that describes itself as a “lifestyle shopping experience.” The active farm features artisanal food, beverage tastings, groceries and other amenities, drawing more than 17,000 visitors per week, according to the company website. Maddicott’s development would have included a cafe and a woodland play park. It was expected to generate 25 full-time jobs and 75 part-time positions, the source reported.
After receiving support from town officials, Maddicott submitted a planning application to the district in January. Though a decision was supposed to be made on the project by May, discussions between the parties have stalled, despite Maddicott filing two formal complaints about the slow progress. The entrepreneur spent 18 months and £45,000 working on the project, he told the source.
Maddicott launched a Change.org petition indicating he was going to walk away from the project and asked the local community to sign as a show of support. Within 24 hours, nearly 400 signatures were collected, but still no progress was made between the developer and district planners, according to the source.
"We are left with no choice but to bow out gracefully," Maddicott said. "Having invested heavily into the planning process to this point, I have made the difficult decision to walk away. I do hope that an alternative and sympathetic use can be found for the site, which I believe represents a significant part of the gateway to Chudleigh."
When Maddicott first pursued the project, he was given a one-year option to acquire the property, but that deadline expired in June.
“We will let the planning application run to maturity,” said Shaun Duncan, operations director for Dainton Group Services, the parent company of Dainton Self Storage. “Having been told initially [we] would have the full support of the planning department, we have now been told that if it was recommended for approval, it would have so many conditions as to be unviable."
"The applicant is well aware that a number of such concerns have been raised, and we have asked for further information in the hope of addressing those concerns,” the district council told the source in a written statement. “Such information has not been forthcoming from the applicant. We have also been advised by Natural England that an appropriate ecological assessment of the site needs to be carried out. We are currently awaiting a response from our ecologists so that this element of the application can be tackled."
Founded by Maddicott in 2002 and based in Newton Abby, England, Dainton Self Storage operates 17 locations in England and Wales. The group also includes Dainton Portable Buildings and Dainton Removals.