TONG Garden Centre is hoping to boost the regional economy by using Yorkshire firms for it's major £4 million development project.

Plans for the centre were given the green light before Christmas and work is now underway.

Leeds-based Jennings has been contracted to do the demolition work and East Yorkshire-based family business Ashcourt has been appointed as the main ground workers on the project, which includes a new plant canopy, an indoor play area and an events centre.

Managing Director Mark Farnsworth said: "In our continued support of, and investment in, the Yorkshire economy, we have appointed Yorkshire tradesmen wherever possible.

"We estimate that £2.5 million of the £4 million investment will be spent with Yorkshire firms, including Jennings, Ashcourt, the mechanical and electrical systems contractors and businesses like Total Flooring that will be involved in the fit out.

"This can only be good for the regional economy."

Work on the new plant canopy is expected to be completed by April and the indoor play and events centre is scheduled to open in July.

Mr Farnsworth added: "We're looking forward to the completion of the first phase of our two year development plan.

"The new plant canopy will create a fabulous covered outdoor plant area and the indoor soft play will complement the popular Grass Hoppers adventure playground by providing an all-weather play area."

Other developments include a new two-storey building and restaurant in May next year and the development of the lakeside space to build log cabins for educational and horticultural use in 2021.

Mr Farnsworth and his business partner Tom Megginson bought Tong Garden Centre back in 2015.

Since then, they have invested more than £2 million to improve the centre with a new plant area, the launch of Grass Hoppers adventure playground, a food hall with instore bakery and butchery departments, plus the creation of a 320-seater restaurant.

The business now employs 160 people and it's anticipated this will rise to more than 200 by the time that the first phase of the expansion is completed in July.

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus when the plans were passed by councillors in December last year, 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."

He added: "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."