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Buckingham florists fear for future over horticultural hub plan

David Abra of Flowers of Distinction and Amanda Thirlby of Moss are objecting to a flower pod outside Waitrose, Buckingham.
140320M-F534 PNL-140320-142527001

David Abra of Flowers of Distinction and Amanda Thirlby of Moss are objecting to a flower pod outside Waitrose, Buckingham. 140320M-F534 PNL-140320-142527001

Two Buckingham florists fear they will be driven out of business if Waitrose is successful in a new planning application.

Waitrose is seeking permission to site a ‘horticulture hub’ outside its Buckingham store, where the trolleys are currently kept – directly opposite independent florist Moss.

About 20 town centre traders attended a meeting of Buckingham Town Council’s planning committee on Monday night to protest.

Vice-chairman of the traders’ association Shop Buckingham, Peter Thirlby, owns the award-winning Moss, with his wife, Amanda.

Mr Thirlby told the Advertiser he had been on the brink of signing a new lease on the shop, but this is now on hold.

He said: “It’s going to impact on our trade.

“If we decide the impact is going to be too great, we might walk, which is sad.

“Waitrose are a valuable asset to the town but the way they’re going with the free coffee, the free newspapers and now this, they’re starting to kill off the other businesses in the town. Waitrose could be the last man standing in a sea of boarded-up shops.”

Mrs Thirlby said Waitrose will be selling items such as planted containers and festive wreaths, which are a core part of Moss’s business.

David Abra co-owns Flowers Of Distinction, on Meadow Row, with his wife, Hayley.

Mr Abra said: “The space they’re going to have is not dissimilar to the size of our shop.

“But because it’s outside, they’ll only have to pay the landlord for the use of the floor space, so they’ll be paying vastly less rent for the same space.

“If they take trade from ourselves and Moss and Howes, on Castle Street, we could lose three shops and the staff that work there.”

A Waitrose spokesman said: “We are proposing to add a small horticultural range outside the branch which will sell a small number of gardening products and will not see us offer the specialist floristry service already excellently provided by Moss and Flowers of Distinction. By running shops that customers enjoy visiting, our aim is to attract more people to the local area who, as well as shopping with us, bring increased trade for other businesses.”

Buckingham Town Council will oppose the application.

See the planning application no 14/00431/APP on the AVDC planning portal.

 

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