A GARDEN centre in East Yorkshire has been sold for £1.5m to two local businessmen who plan to invest more than £1m in the site and create new jobs.

Cameron Holroyd and Rob Hardcastle who have bought California Gardens at Howden, near Goole, have plans for a new 250-cover restaurant and other upgrades to the four-acre site.

The business has been owned by the Hall family since 1879 and is one of the UK's oldest garden centres.

Mr Hardcastle owns several East Yorkshire landscaping and horticultural businesses, including Ellerker Lodge Garden Centre near Brough, and employs more than 75 people in the region.

The new plans will create 15 jobs this spring, increasing the garden centre’s 25-strong workforce to 40.

“California Gardens is very well known by everyone in the area and we’re thrilled to have bought an important piece of local history, which has been in the care of successive generations of the Hall family for over 140 years,” said Mr Hardcastle.

“Our aim is now to make garden centre even better, with a fantastic range of plants and garden accessories and an extension and upgrade of the café, which we have renamed the Olive Tree.

"We’re currently getting ready for the café’s reopening on April 12 and later this year plan to extend the space so that it seats 250 people and becomes a full restaurant, serving great home-cooked meals.”

With the spring and summer seasons expected to be particularly busy this year as Government lockdown restrictions ease, California Gardens is recruiting for 15 new staff.

“We are looking for people to fill a variety of roles, from plantsmen to retail staff, and it’s fantastic to be able to offer something positive for the community in the current difficult employment situation,” added Mr Hardcastle.

The centre was sold by Leeds-based commercial property estate agent Ernest Wilson.

Michael Peel, sales manager at Ernest Wilson, said: “California Gardens is a great example of a business gaining a new lease of life under new, professional ownership.

"The Hall family were looking to retire but very keen to ensure their historic family business went to the right buyer. Rob and his experienced team have an ambitious, sustainable strategy to take this local landmark from strength to strength.”

He added: “As we enter a new post-Covid economic landscape Ernest Wilson are seeing a huge appetite from potential buyers looking for opportunities to acquire viable small businesses. In the current market demand is far outstripping supply and for business owners it’s certainly a great time to consider selling.”