A FAMILY are welcoming public opinion on plans to convert their derelict horticulture nursery in Tilford into an enterprise centre.

The idea for the Tilford Enterprise Centre was spearheaded by Matthew Burch, a Frensham-based photographer and son of David and Valerie Burch, who bought the nursery in 1995.

Various applications for houses to be built on the site have been rejected, but the family now hope plans for a sustainable, eco-friendly centre comprising 15 to 20 studio/workshops averaging 100sq m will reach fruition.

“We want to create something special,” said Mr Burch, who is working alongside daughter Tabitha.

“From the outset for this idea, we have focused on it being designed with sustainability and the environment in mind. To that end we envisage studios being built using low to zero carbon materials, green roofs, grey water systems and renewable energies.

“To respect the local environment we are looking at designing one to one and half storeys with mostly flat roofs complemented by well planned planting and landscaping.”

Retired housebuilder David Burch added: “I have always known houses so that’s my comfort zone, so that is the path we originally took. But for me now this new idea, with the family working together to create these studios and workshops, is very exciting.”

Plans for the centre have been unveiled on a website, where residents can send in comments and suggestions.

The family are also offering opportunities for people to become ‘stakeholder tenants’, whereby future tenants of the facility would become part of the team prior to the submission of a planning application.

Mr Burch said: “Nobody wants to see empty premises and it’s a question the Local Planning Authority (LPA) will need answering.

“If we submit the plans to the LPA with the studios essentially rented, it’s proof they’re wanted.”

See www.tilfordenterprise centre.co.uk for information.