OBJECTIONS have been raised to opening a new nursery in Thatcham.
Little Me Day Nurseries has applied to convert the former Wagtech offices in Station Road. Planning agent MBI Surveyors said that the nursery would create more than 20 jobs and argued there was a strong local demand for a nursery.
Discussing the plans last week, Thatcham Town Council heard from the director of Tigers and Tigers Too Day Nursery, Alison Huntley, who said that there were already three nurseries within a mile of the town centre.
Mrs Huntely said that the opening of another nursery would ‘stretch everyone’. She added that she had concerns that Little Me would find staff to run the new nursery as it was difficult to recruit qualified staff.
Little Me said it would stagger its use throughout the day, meaning that it would never be at full occupancy; significantly reducing the stress of car parking.
Estimating that the new nursery would have 70-80 children on the books, Mrs Huntely said she was concerned about the lack of parking spaces and how the staggered times would be managed.
Little Me is also proposing to extend the office’s garden to create a ‘peaceful educational environment’ through a reading garden. It expects the nursery to generate less noise than the former offices.
Mrs Huntley disagreed however. “60 children aren’t going to go out there and sit and read I can tell you that.” She added that she was concerned over the vagueness of the application.
The town council’s technical consultant, Chris Watts, said that while there was no reason why the building could not be used as a nursery, he had reservations over the plans.
Mr Watts said that neighbouring Nideggen Close was “under quite considerable pressure for parking” and he was at a loss as to how many children the nursery would be caring for.
He said that while competition between businesses was not a planning consideration there was a matter of provision.
“I am interested in the numbers, if this is 60, 70, 80 [children] that does rack up the issues of parking and turn around... Overall I don’t think this is suitable for the use.” He cited lack of detail as the reason he considers the application unsuitable.
Residents have also lodged 13 objections with West Berkshire Council’s planning department.
Window cleaner Paul Denham said that parking was already an issue and would be made worse by the nursery opening. He added that with no method to control how parents brought their children to the site, people would drive to the building.
Another resident said that the location was a hazardous place to drop off children. They added that the noise from the new nursery would intensify that already produced from Tigers Too.