‘We’re not diversifying’ - Greenfingers owner responds to town council concerns over pizza van

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 September 2020

Greenfingers Garden Centre, Exmouth. Picture: Google

Greenfingers Garden Centre, Exmouth. Picture: Google


A converted horsebox selling pizzas operates from the car park of a garden centre to give an Exmouth couple a means of earning a living.

When discussing a retrospective application for a pizza van on the grounds of Greenfingers Garden Centre, in Pound Lane, town councillor Brian Toye said he understood the need for the business to diversify.

However, Trish Ames, who runs Greenfingers with her husband Geoffrey, said they are not diversifying.

She told The Journal a young couple, who usually make a living from operating a bison burger van at festivals and shows, came to them with the idea of a pizza van near the entrance of Greenfingers.

Mrs Ames said the ‘Pizza Garden’ van has been there for eight weeks and has been very successful but Greenfingers doesn’t profit from it.

She said: “During lockdown, they came to us and asked us to let them have a piece of land to sell pizzas in the evening.

“We don’t make anything out of it – normally they would be going around the festivals but there’s just nothing happening right now.”

Angus Robertson, who runs the pizza van, applied for retrospective permission for the Pizza Garden to continue.

There is just one comment on the East Devon District Council planning portal raising concerns about smoke and a lit-up ‘pizza’ sign.

The Pizza Garden operates four evenings a week – Thursday to Sunday – from 4.30pm until 9pm.

Mrs Ames said: “They could have just claimed unemployment and sat on their benefits – it seems a shame that a young couple who have invested their time and money in a new business are going through this.

“It’s been so successful – they have done really well. People order the food online, they drive down and they are there five minutes while the food is packaged.”

Concerns have been raised over smoke coming from the van affecting neighbouring properties and the positioning of signage close the nearby Pound Lane road.

However, Mrs Ames said a ‘pizza’ sign cannot be seen from the main road and the pizza van uses special wood which gives off ‘very little’ smoke.

East Devon District Council will make the final decision.

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