Nursery plan “not needed” say Lancashire villagers

Plans for nursery on Lightfoot Lane, Fulwood
Plans for nursery on Lightfoot Lane, Fulwood
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Plans for a new day nursery on the edge of the Preston countryside have been thrown out by city councillors.

Despite a advice from Town Hall planners to approve the scheme, for a two-storey 120-place nursery in Fulwood, planning consent has been refused.

The proposal, to transform and area of grassland off Lightfoot Lane was originally recommended for refusal following fears it didn’t fit in with the vision for the area.

But, after the scheme was deferred for further investigation they did a u-turn saying proposals meet current needs.

The plans, submitted by architects Bramley and Pate, involve demolishing existing outbuildings and developing a day nursery brought forward in two phases, initially offering 44 places.

The planning committee was told that both Woodplumpton Parish Council and 22 local residents objected to the proposal, submitted on behalf of owners of a leading independent school and nursery group.

Parish councillors pointed out that the North West Preston Masterplan indicated the site is allocated for housing.

Lancashire County Council withdrew a previous highways objection, following the submission of amended plans and a site access plan.

Officer recommended approval but councillors voted to block the plans against their advice.

Members of the planning committee raised fears over potential traffic problems, and said parents parking on Lightfoot Lane could cause obstructions.

Julie Buttle clerk to Woodplumpton Parish Council and a former city councillor said: “NW Preston is being built at the rate of 30 properties per year and is still in the informative stages – that’s why no one will commit to land allocation at the moment.

“In the future, there may be a local demand – and when that local demand materialises – it is the City Council’s responsibility to grant permission in a location which actually complies with planning policy!!

Until then, the application is premature and should be refused.”

The applicants already own the land, currently used for grazing and bounded by hedgerows, with some mature tree planting and said the proposed nursery would serve the existing residential developments in the Cottam and Higher Bartle areas and the proposed major housing developments planned for that part of North West Preston.

It was estimated the first phase would see eight staff employed rising to a total of 23 once the development was fully occupied.

Today the applicants said they were extremely disappointed by the refusal.

Spokesman Stuart Carr said: “We are extremely disappointed , particularly as the planning officers confirmed that the scheme is fully compliant with the highways departments requirements and all the statutory bodies supported the application.”

The applicants are this year celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ashbridge Independent school and nursery in Hutton and recently transformed the former Bridge Inn in Walton-le-dale into a nursery.