PROPOSALS to build a new home for Ramsbury Pre-School were hotly debated at a parish council meeting last week.
The current premises at the Methodist Church Hall have been outgrown and are no longer compliant with increasing Government regulation. The pre-school committee has determined that the only option is to construct new, purpose-built premises and a planning application has gone before Wiltshire Council.
But the project, which would also boost the pupils’ capacity numbers, has proved controversial, with some villagers fearing it will worsen traffic and parking chaos.
At the meeting on Monday, December 14, Isles Road resident and parish councillor Ron Young was among those who spoke against the proposal, citing traffic problems near his home and in Back Lane at the beginning and end of each school day.
Critics claim the roads there are dangerous enough already and that building on the proposed site, a Back Lane plot originally earmarked for a pre-school in the 1980s, would escalate the dangers to an unacceptable level.
He has told planners: “If only 50 per cent of planned numbers of children were delivered and collected by car it could produce an additional 30 vehicle movements and 15 attempts to park twice per day in an already congested location.
“The congestion may only be present for up to an hour on school days but it only takes seconds for a serious accident to take place.
“Unless the scheme can make provision for proper parking and traffic management I, with some regret, must object to the application on the grounds of increased traffic and parking concerns which have been largely dismissed or ignored in the application.”
Some others spoke in support, including pre-school manager Emma Gagen.
Several have written to planners to back the project such as Clare Allman of Ashley Piece, who felt Ramsbury Pre-School would benefit hugely from being on the same site as the primary school.
She added: “It would provide great continuous education and a very happy place for the village children. The site at the front of school is currently underutilised and a single-storey, purpose-built pre-school would be an asset.
“It would also enable resources to be shared and with co-ordinated play times allow the pre-school children the amazing freedom of the school field
“The majority of village children walk to school – so with an ‘access only for residents’ on Isles Road there will be minimal impact on the surrounding residents.
“This access only should be implemented to prevent any school traffic going down Isles road anyway.”
Ramsbury Pre-School began 40 years ago at the Methodist Church Hall as a toddlers group. Over the decades it has become a registered charity rated as “good” by Ofsted.
The charity committee wants to establish a permanent home and pre-school manager Emma Gagen said: “It’s important for our community to keep the pre-school in the village.
“This site benefits from being in the heart of village and close to all the amenities.
“It offers convenience for parents, for drop off and collection, as the majority of parents have children that attend Ramsbury Primary School.
“The new site will enable us to have a bigger and better designed interior and exterior space, appropriate for an increased capacity of 30 children in a session, matching school class sizes.”
At the conclusion of the parish council discussion, it was decided to arrange for a new traffic survey.
Meanwhile the proposals can be viewed in full by visiting Wiltshire Council website’s planning section and using the reference 15/11169/FUL