MAJOR expansion plans for a well-known and long-standing garden centre have been given the go ahead.

The proposals for Tong Garden Centre were discussed by Bradford Council's Regulatory and Appeals Committee yesterday, with councillors unanimously voting to give the application the green light.

The ambitious £4 million plans, which include lakeside cabins, new play areas and an expansion of the existing business, were revealed earlier this year and the meeting heard that around 40 to 50 new jobs will be created as a result.

Councillors heard that some objections had been submitted in response to the plans, with concerns being raised about the impact on traffic and the garden centre becoming more of a shopping centre.

Another representation said it would enhance the garden centre and improve facilities for the local area.

In response to concerns about garden centre moving into the realm of a shopping centre, a condition was attached to the application outlining what may and may not be sold.

Mark Farnsworth and Tom Megginson bought the centre in 2015 and the application said they were "determined to restore Tong to the iconic centre it once was".

In response to traffic concerns, the garden centre said that the changes were "to retain the public on site longer rather than to increase the number of visitors to the site".

Council officers recommended the approval of the application, saying in a report issued before the meeting: "The proposal provides an appropriately designed development which is limited infilling on previously developed land in the Green Belt; it is within an enclosed area situated on land that is part of an existing garden centre, therefore having no greater impact on the openness of the wider Green Belt.”

Mr Farnsworth spoke at the meeting and said that jobs had increased from 45 to 160 and this would increase to more than 200.

He highlighted that the log cabins would have an educational element, accommodating things like school visits, and the events space would be used for garden-related classes and demonstrations.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Farnsworth said: "We're really excited, it continues the development of the centre, we've started this journey three years ago and there's so much more we want to do.

"This approval gives us the opportunity to try and deliver one of the best destination centres in the UK.

"We've gone from 45 jobs to 160, so we see ourselves now as a big local employer and hopefully we can only get bigger.

"We want to support jobs, we want to give people opportunities, we want to give people careers and their success is really important to us."

And speaking about the timescale of the work he said: "We will do a very little bit before Christmas, but work will start in earnest on January 7.

"We hope that it will be complete by the end of June."