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Nursery back with plans to open in Thatcham

Application raises concerns about traffic and loss of office space

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A NURSERY is back with plans to open in Thatcham but it is facing opposition once again.

Little Me Day Nurseries has applied to change the use of the Coach House in Turners Drive from an office to a nursery for up to 77 children.

Information from the planning agent MB Surveyors said that the site is in a sustainable location with 15 car parking spaces, while the business would employ 13 full-time staff and three part-time staff.

“A children’s day nursery here will be an important local facility and service, encouraging social integration and interaction,” the application states.

“There is a large on-site provision for office space already along Turners Drive. The subject building has no demand because of this for its existing use.

“It is felt that this proposal will not have a detrimental impact on the centre of Thatcham.”

The application marks Little Me’s second attempt to open in the town after its plans to convert the Wagtech building in Station Road were turned down. 

Refusing the plans, West Berkshire Council said that a lack of parking would be a detriment to highway safety.

It added that insufficient information had been provided to demonstrate that the loss of the office would not impact the overall supply in the town centre.

And the same concerns have been raised about the latest application by neighbouring businesses in Thatcham House.

Consultancy company Vybrant said that access through the busy junction of Station Road and Turners Drive, used as a pick-up and drop-off point for Kennet School, would worsen.

The company said that children would have to walk through the car parking area for Thatcham House, which was busy with deliveries and tenants and clients using the site.

The loss of office space was also highlighted by the company, which said that the property had only be marketed for a few months.

Referring to concerns from councillors about the loss of office space in neighbouring Newbury, the company said it felt “this would be a similar loss as economic prospects of the country improve, this space will be needed for business, especially smaller companies, and start-ups”.

Other companies have shared this view.

Partner at digital marketing agency Wysi, Robert Wakefield, said that the Coach House offered prime office accommodation in the town.

He said: “As the UK economy has rebounded, Thatcham House has become fully occupied again and more recently we have seen the car park usage increase to near capacity.

“If this application were to be approved, the value of Thatcham House as a thriving small business office complex would be undermined.”

Mr Wakefield raised “grave concerns” about access, saying that a nursery at the site would create “traffic chaos” and place an additional demand on car parking “that is simply not sustainable”.

A decision is expected from West Berkshire Council by Friday, December 30.

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