A NURSERY in Salisbury is having to "turn away children" after expansion plans stalled earlier this year.

It comes after Old Sarum Nursery looked set for a multi-million pound expansion, only for Wiltshire Council to back out.

The school’s chair of governors Natalie Moss says they are now having to turn children away during what is their busiest time of the year.

Mrs Moss said: "Christmas is a very busy time for the nursery, and [as a result of the failed expansion] we are on a knife edge".

The £1.8 million expansion plans looks to be all but over, after Wiltshire Council revealed in May it can't back the scheme as the developer's demands "undermine the local plan".

Mrs Moss has now submitted an official complaint to Wiltshire Council, as well as contacting the ombudsman for local government.

Mrs Moss said: "Wiltshire Council suddenly backtracked on this decision, giving us excuses left right and centre, saying they couldn’t change their strategic policy, even though they had done for Harnham and Longhedge.

"They told us they didn’t trust Persimmon, and it has left us owing £84,000, and we've lost £30,000 of our own money.

"We want this money back from the council."

As reported, Persimmon agreed to pledge to £1.2 million to the scheme, but the county authority claimed this was as long as the developer secured planning permission to build homes on land nearby – which has already been earmarked for business use.

In May this year, children's services head Councillor Laura Mayes said the council wouldn't be entering into an agreement with the firm.

Mrs Moss added: "In the meantime, things are getting worse and worse.

"We’ve gone from having three rooms to two at the nursery – we were using a portacabin, but that’s now gone.

"Christmas time always seems to be our busiest time, and now we can’t expand even if we had the money, and we're having to turn children away."

Old Sarum Nursery – holder of an "Outstanding" Ofsted report – already caters for around 130 children from Old Sarum, on the northern edge of Salisbury, but the school says that demand has outstripped places due to more than 800 houses recently being built in the area, along with a further 750 built, or in development, nearby.

Cllr Richard Clewer, Deputy Leader said: "In 2016 the Council secured government funding to support providers to create additional nursery places at a number of sites in Wiltshire.

"The grant was approved on the basis that it was provider led. We worked closely with Old Sarum Nursery as one of six nursery providers to benefit from the funding.

"One of the conditions of the government grant was a minimum of 25 per cent of the total project cost to be funded from alternative sources. Unfortunately the contribution was not secured by the nursery to match the grant funding for Old Sarum Nursery.

"When the Council realised the nursery was incurring costs without the match funding in place to deliver the project, the nursery was advised that the Council would cover their costs to that point, but if they proceeded it would be at their own risk.

"We are disappointed the nursery feels aggrieved by the Council’s actions.

"The Council has confirmed to the nursery that a full review will be undertaken and that review is ongoing and the nursery has been kept informed of its progress.

"During the process the Council provided £30k of funding and more recently has offered to work with the nursery as they consider other options."