Plans for a plant nursery to expand its glasshouses at Lowca are set to be considered by Copeland Council’s planning panel.

AG and CR Blomfield Ltd has applied to the council for planning permission to erect 3.2 hectares of new glasshouses on land to the north of Woodland Nurseries at Stamford Hill, to add to the 4.5 hectares of glasshouses and other facilities it already has in place.

The council’s planners have recommended the application for approval, despite objections from Lowca parish council because of the impact on residential amenity, the character of the landscape and settlement, and biodiversity.

Anthony Blomfield, who owns the business, said the development would create at least 25 new jobs, on top of the 45 people it currently employs during peak times.

He said: “Last year we put £1.4million into the local economy and this would put another £1m in at least.

“When you look at what has happened over the past three months with COVID-19, there are no other businesses I know of really putting planning applications in but we are still wanting to do this.”

The company, which Mr Blomfield said had run for more than 70 years, supplies bedding plants across the country and initially struggled during the coronavirus pandemic as garden centres closed.

Mr Blomfield said it had been forced to throw away plants worth £1.2m.

The parish council argued that the development would be on agricultural land which had habitats worthy of conservation potentially including European Protected Species and raised concerns about wear and tear on nearby Solway Road from goods vehicles, as well as other transport issues.

It requested the applicant be made to sign an agreement to contribute £35,000 towards the cost of building a play area.

The borough council has also received 34 letters in support of the application and 62 against it, with supporters saying it would help secure the future of both the applicant’s business and its primary customer, Dobbies Garden Centres.

They also said Blomfield’s Limited was the primary employer in Lowca as industry had ceased in the area and had invested in improving the surface at the access for cyclists and walkers.

Objectors’ concerns included the visual impact of the expansion, loss of agricultural land, pollution and waste management, as well as public safety on the nearby road and the potential for local wildlife to be affected by the development.

Planners recommended approval subject to a number of conditions being imposed to address concerns, including requiring visibility splays to be put in place at the access and details of the construction, surface water management and ground investigation works to be provided.

The application will be considered at a virtual meeting of the panel at 2pm today, which can be viewed by visiting