THE proposed garden centre in Menstrie could become a "roaring success" after it was backed in principal by Wee County councillors.

The Caulders project, to be sited on the former Glenochil Nursery, was hailed by members of the Planning Committee last Thursday for having the potential to create more than 30 jobs, be a community hub and even bring visitors into the area.

However, they remained cautious regarding potential traffic issues and there was cross-party consensus that two new conditions should be attached to address that.

The site lies just off the A91, one of the busiest roads in Clacks according to Cllr Derek Stewart.

Speeds on the section are set at the national 60mph limit and the council-owned land is just a few hundred meters from the 40mph sign as vehicles enter the village.

In its comment, the council's Roads and Transportation department said "there is insufficient evidence to justify changing the 60mph limit".

However, as Cllr Tina Murphy explained, if the venture is expected to be a "roaring success", increased footfall should be anticipated. The centre is to have 140 parking spaces with an overflow of around 50 per cent the capacity.

The potential need to change speed limits is further aggravated by the fact that there is no crossing in place at the nearby bus stop.

Echoing the sentiment, Cllr George Matchett said: "We are anticipating a success story here, if it comes about, there will be a lot of traffic – it needs to be seriously considered."

Ideas were then floating in the chamber regarding a potential crossing for the bus stop, perhaps even a pedestrian island, to be attached to the permission as a condition.

However, council officers warned the technicalities may not be so simple – the road may not be wide enough and the impact on the whole stretch would need to be examined too.

Elected members remained cautious, with Cllr Donald Balsillie, who chaired the meeting, adding that it was the "spirit and will" of the committee to implement conditions relating to traffic safety.

Planning officers suggested two new conditions could be attached relating to a traffic audit to be carried out, potentially by a third party, with an assessment on the crossing before the garden centre opens for business.

"Sounds good to me", said Cllr Balsillie, before concluding: "Hopefully, it will be one of the major attractions in Clacks in the future."

Subject to other conditions, work on the structures could begin regardless, including on a temporary manager's accommodation, which will have to be removed from site by the end of March 2023.

Colin Barrie, who owns Caulders alongside his wife and employs around 210 people at five centres, told the Advertiser they will now examine the conditions before pushing ahead with the plans.

The centre will come with a café and could become a place to go to, with Colin explaining: "We are very involved in the communities that we've got our businesses in and we very much see that as a way ahead to keep ourselves different from the big nationally-owned chains of garden centres.

"We want to be involved in the community and any opportunity to do that we are delighted to take."