Barcham Trees of Ely hoping to expand with 125 cover restaurant, aboretum, a lake, conference facilities and retail area
It prides itself on being Europe’s largest tree specialist and Barcham near Ely is now considering a massive expansion of its visitor offering with an arboretum, 125 cover restaurant, shops, a lake and conference facilities.
The company has outlined it plans to East Cambridgeshire County Council prior to the submission of a detailed planning application.
Barcham hope to set aside 20 of its 350 acres for the development and say the arboretum will be landscaped to allow trees to be displayed in a range of environments.
“A network of paths will be routed through the arboretum which will be suitable for disabled access,” says their agent Strutt & Parker.
Whilst the sale of trees, the restaurant and arboretum will be the main attractions, Barcham believes a retail area selling locally produced goods and crafts with garden furniture and indoor plants will add to the mix.
The firm says it will allow them expand and diversify their business and boost customer visitors – at the moment healthy and safety reasons mean anyone visiting must first make an appointment.
“Consequently the development would enable customers to visit the site at their leisure,” says Strutt and Parker.
Their application to the council is by way of sounding out the level of detail that might be needed once a full application is under way. One area of concern is whether planners might regard it as a project having “an urbanising effect on the rural landscape”. However Barcham believes that with good landscaping much of the site will retain a distinct rural appearance.
One possible outcome of approval could be improvements to Eye Hill Drove and the A142 junction and the company says talks with the county council have been positive.