Jobs boost at Barcham if visitor centre and cafe go ahead

Artist's impression of Barcham's proposals for a cafe restaurant and visitor centre. 

Artist's impression of Barcham's proposals for a cafe restaurant and visitor centre. - Credit: Barcham

Barcham Trees says turning 7,000 square feet barn they bought three years ago into a visitor centre and restaurant holds the key to their future. 

The Barway company says if planning permission is agreed “the intention is to increase the turnover of the business to circa £15 million and increase employment to 100 FTE and 20 seasonal staff”.  

Barcham Trees Plc is the largest container tree nursery in Europe with an annual turnover of £9 million with 80 full time employees (FTE) and an additional 15 staff employed in the planting season from November to April.  

The main site covers an area of 150 acres with an additional 60 acres which is leased. The business sells 70,000 container grown trees per annum. 

Diversification to attract visitors to be able to view products before buying are a driving ambition.  

"There is also a need for restaurant/refreshment facilities to both attract and retain visitors,” says Barway in a submission to East Cambridgeshire District Council. 

Planning permission is being sought for refurbishment and extension of the derelict engineering works barn with separate access from Eye Hill Drove.  

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“This application will be a change of direction in size and location of the planning permission which was obtained in January 2018,” says the company. 

It says buying a site next door in March 2019 included a barn of approximately 7,000sqft which is the proposed new visitor centre for Barcham Trees PLC.  

The proposals include linkage to the proposed arboretum, lake and activity areas. 

Barway says that unlike many other tree nurseries the stock is produced on site rather than imported. 

“Due to the operational requirements of the site and the use of heavy plant and machinery, it is not possible for unaccompanied visitors to come to the site,”. 

The arboretum is being landscaped to include a lake and will 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 use by wheelchairs.  

Barway says its ambition “is to create a high quality, family friendly visitor attraction”.  

The barn itself will have a retail space inside selling gifts etc and a cafe area for serving hot and cold food for approximately 145 covers with outdoor dining and picnic areas.