PRE-SCHOOL children in Durrington will have nowhere to get an early education if a proposed nursery school is not given planning permission, according to Wiltshire Council’s education department.
But an application by the council to build a nursery school on the site of Avon Valley College failed to get the support of its own southern area planning committee at a meeting held last night amid concerns from residents on a nearby road about increased traffic and parents parking outside their homes.
The council wants a school catering for 36 children aged from two to five, but four letters of objection have been received from people in The Ham.
An earlier version of the plan was refused permission in October and the applicants were asked to produce a travel plan.
Speaking at Thursday’s meeting, resident Graham Amis said to committee chairman Fred Westmoreland: “When this last came up you described it as ill-conceived. It was not thought through and in the wrong location. Well, nothing has changed.”
The revised plan includes signs directing people to park on the other side of the site, by the swimming pool. There were also assurances that nursery staff would instruct parents not to access the site from The Ham.
There were no objections from the Highways Authority and council planning officers recommended the application for approval, but some councillors felt the signage would be inadequate and any parking contract with parents unenforceable.
Cllr John Smale said: “Parents don’t pay any attention to signs when dropping kids off. They just drop them at the nearest point.” Naomi Defriend from the council’s education department told the committee funding would only be available for the pre-school until April, leaving just a few weeks for another plan to be put forward.
Cllr Jose Green said: “I don’t want what has been said here to deny Durrington a nursery school.” She added that the council should have faith in the authorities at the school taking action to enforce parking.
Cllr Ian McLennan said: “The parents going into the nursery will look into the eyes of the manager and soon be informed if they are parking in the wrong place. The signs will work.”
The vote on the application was equally split, with four committee members voting in favour, four against, and cllr Graham Wright from Durrington choosing to abstain because of his involvement in negotiations with all parties as chairman of the town council prior to the meeting.
The casting vote rested with cllr Westmoreland, who backed refusal, adding: “My hope is that something comes back to us within the next three weeks.”