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Priory Maze and Gardens for sale

PUBLISHED: 15:58 16 April 2008 | UPDATED: 08:55 13 July 2010

A tourist attraction maze and gardens are up for sale as the couple behind the venture take a second stab at semi-retirement.

The Priory Maze and Gardens at Beeston Regis is on the market for offers around £1.

A tourist attraction maze and gardens are up for sale as the couple behind the venture take a second stab at semi-retirement.

The Priory Maze and Gardens at Beeston Regis is on the market for offers around £1.5m.

It was taken over by Mike and Liz Tacchi five years ago after they sold their Huntingdon-based garden and nurseries business, which also landscaped major projects such as Legoland and Disneyland Paris.

They moved to north Norfolk for a quieter life, but spotted the maze and gardens for sale, and have developed it from a site that was only open 28 days a year, to an all-year-round attraction with 60,000 visitors - who drop in to see the gardens, maze, plant centre and restaurant.

Having rushed through a 15-year-old action plan in just five, they have decided to put the site on the market to allow more leisure and family time. “We got carried away with the project. I did not realise how impatient we were. But it was a seven-day-a-week commitment,” said 57-year-old Mr Tacchi.

He and his wife, who live in the Sheringham area, were keen to spend more time with their children, Jack 13 and Charlotte 11.

The Priory Maze has made a name through showcasing exotic plants, and proving they can grow in the local climate.

Species include Mediterranean olives, Tasmania tree ferns, and South American palms.

They said it would be a big wrench leaving a place where they had put their heart and souls and would miss the feedback from customers on how their plants were faring.

Their move to Sheringham came after they expanded their previous Cambridgeshire-based business turnover from £1m to £7m in just a year, but it also saw them doing more paperwork than gardening, so they were pleased to tackle the maze project because it was a “chance to get our hands dirty again,” said Mrs Tacchi.

Last year Mr Tacchi also set up a link with the Caribbean spice island of Grenada, creating nurseries to grow plants for landscaping holiday developments, but has now passed that on, partially because the 5000-mile commute was a bit daunting.

Tim Stephens, director at selling agents Humberts, said there were a number of “potential profit centres” from the 70-cover Foxgloves restaurant and tearooms to the gardens at the 9.25acre site, which was in a good position beside the main coast road.

Property details say there is “significant income growth potential” and the complex also has a manager's chalet with planning permission for a large two-storey house. Turnover at the Priory had doubled at the Priory from £80,000 to £165,000 over the past five years. It employs two full-time and two part-time staff.

Details and viewings through Humberts, 4 Tombland, Norwich, 01603 661199.

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