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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Plans lodged for new ‘community garden centre’ at Thompson Park in Sunderland

A public park on Wearside could soon benefit from a new ‘community garden centre’ under plans submitted to city development chiefs.

Sunderland City Council’s planning department has received a planning application for Thompson Park in the Southwick ward.

In recent years, the park has seen major investment including £200,000 allocated from the North Sunderland Area Committee.

This formed part of an initiative to improve the park’s cycling and sports facilities, as well as general improvements to make the park safer and more accessible.

New plans from Sunderland Home Grown Community Interest Company (CIC) aim to set up a new community garden centre at the park.

This includes fencing with double access gates, a shop building, a twin span poly tunnel and canopy, two steel shipping containers with solar panels to the roof area and a water tank.

The proposals would be brought forward on part of Thompson Park’s existing car park with funding identified for the project.

According to a submitted planning application, the site would be used to sell the produce from Sunderland Home Grown CIC in Thompson Park, as well as offering free customer service and retail training to the community.

Sunderland Home Grown CIC is a social enterprise trading as a garden centre, providing opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems through training and employment opportunities, as well as promoting social and therapeutic horticulture.

From its base in Thompson Park, where it has been working since 2017, it offers people with learning disabilities experience managing working plant nurseries, vegetable gardens and landscaping.

Earlier this year the group revealed plans to expand its operations to an additional site, increasing the number of people it can support.

A submitted planning application notes the group have been working with Sunderland City Council to develop its community garden and have identified an “area of the park not being used”.

The location, on the junction of Thompson Road and Carley Road, aims to make it easier for people to find Sunderland Home Grown CIC, described by its leaders as “Sunderland’s best kept secret”.

If approved, the new community garden centre would also have a number of employees, including part-time roles.

A decision on the application is expected to be made next year once a period of council consultation has concluded.

For more information on the garden centre plan and to track its progress, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 22/02472/FU4

To find out more about Sunderland Home Grown CIC, visit: www.sunderlandhomegrown.co.uk

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