Chorley nursery finally gets green light after delay over KFC air quality concerns

Plans for a children’s nursery in Buckshaw Village have been given the go-ahead at the third time of asking after councillors were finally convinced that the air quality at the site would not pose a risk to the health of its young users.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 2:46 am

Members of Chorley’s Council’s planning committee had twice deferred their decision over the proposal for the facility on Barnes Wallis Way, because of its proximity to a neighbouring KFC drive-through.

They had been concerned that an outdoor play area would be located 20 metres from the lane where traffic queues can form while customers wait to order and collect their food.

Operator Kids Planet Day Nurseries was asked to submit air quality data last December, but when it used an approved method of taking nitrogen dioxide readings from the nearest existing monitoring station two miles away, members said that they still could not be satisfied of the safety of the pollution levels at the site itself - and requested an assessment be carried out at the exact location of the proposed nursery.

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KFC in Buckshaw Village (pictured May 2019)

Principal planning officer Iain Crossland told a recent meeting of the committee that the resultant site-specific data had provided “real-time, localised air quality information”

“[This] confirms that the levels of each key pollutant - which are nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter - are significantly below the national objective values. The report subsequently concludes that there will be no adverse impact on the future users of the application site from air quality in the vicinity of the KFC,” Mr. Crossland said.

Paul Kallee-Grover, the agent for the application, said that the operator “fully understood” and shared the committee’s aim to ensure that the air quality in the area met and exceeded government standards. He added that monitoring had taken place for a month - double the time requested by the council.

“You have to appreciate the use of the KFC…during the Covid period [means] there is an increased amount of cars using that area than would normally be anticipated. Yet we have still proved that we are significantly below [the air quality] thresholds,” Mr. Kallee-Grover said.

The site of the proposed new nursery off Barnes Wallis Way in Buckshaw Village (image via Chorley Council)

Several councillors praised Kids Planet Day Nurseries for their response to the committee’s concerns.

“We asked this applicant to jump through a number of hoops, which they have - and the committee has been very fair in making absolutely sure [of] getting as much information as we possibly can on this issue,” Cllr Gordon France said.

However, fellow member Cllr Alex Hilton expressed concern that no detail had been provided about levels of particulate matter known as PM 2.5.

The operations manager for nearby Buckshaw Village Nursery, Julie Wild, said photographic evidence showed queuing vehicles at the KFC coinciding with times when children would be playing outside or being collected from the new facility.

She added that traffic queues at peak times extend “not only out onto Barnes Wallis Way, but Ordnance Way”, meaning parents will be “required to sit in a queue to actually access the [nursery] car park to collect their children - adding massively to the queuing traffic problem”.

However, all members except Cllr Hilton voted to approve the application.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Kids Planet Day Nurseries said that the new facility - the family-owned company's sixtieth - will offer 120 places, catering for six-week-old babies to pre-school age children. It will include a state-of-the-art sensory room designed to enhance learning and play.

CEO Clare Roberts said: “Despite the challenging year, we are thrilled to announce the opening of a brand-new nursery in Chorley. With the highest quality of care, we offer the best possible start for children in a safe and nurturing environment, and we look forward to welcoming children at the end of the year."

The nursery is expected to open in November.