Jobs are to be created at a Aylesbury garden centre after it secured vital funding for its expansion plans.
The family-owned Haddenham Garden Centre, in Stanbridge Road, Haddenham, will recruit an extra 17 staff with the long-awaited expansion.
The project has been made possible after the centre secured a £180,000 grant from the LEADER Programme, which is aimed at small, rural businesses.
It will enable the centre’s coffee shop and farm shop to be extended creating 17 jobs over three years.
Director Ben Hawkins said: “Expanding our coffee shop and farm shop will help us meet local demand, create higher quality amenities for the local area with an emphasis on quality local food, and in turn create many jobs for the rapidly growing local rural population.”
The works should be completed by spring with the new jobs spread across the business, with eight in the farm shop, seven in the coffee shop, and two in the main garden centre itself.
Mr Hawkins said: “Without the LEADER funding, we simply wouldn’t be able to complete this project. The grant allows us to complete the entire project within one year and safeguard these future jobs and business growth.”
Will Dallimore, LEADER Programme Manager, said: “One of the key aims of the LEADER Programme is to help rural businesses create jobs, so I’m delighted we have been able to support Haddenham Garden Centre with its expansion.”
The garden centre began trading in 1978, with the coffee shop opening in 2007.
Mr Hawkins said it was hoped that further developments would begin within two years of the opening of the coffee shop but due to the financial climate and a focus on running the existing business, this had to be delayed.
When the work is complete, the coffee shop will be housed in a new building with a larger seating area and kitchen, while the farm shop will benefit from new fixtures in order to provide a much bigger range of local produce.
The garden centre will also have a new frontage and entrance.
Mr Hawkins added: “Visiting garden centres is now widely considered a leisure and tourism activity.
“Our expansion will increase the number of visitors to the local area, therefore benefiting the other local attractions and businesses close to us.
“There are many local food and drink suppliers that will directly benefit from this project too, as we continue to source products from local suppliers.”
The LEADER Programme delivers grants of between £5,000 to £180,000 to support business growth in rural areas.
The grants are administered by Ngage Solutions, on behalf of the LEADER Local Action Groups.