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Residents threaten compensation claim if pre-school's expansion on protected land gets go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 14:27 11 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 11 November 2019

Beetley and District Pre-School. Picture: Ian Burt

Beetley and District Pre-School. Picture: Ian Burt

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A pre-school in desperate need of expansion is worried a covenant on council land could stand in the way of its plans.

Beetley and District Pre-School (outlined in orange) wants to build a new building on a neighbouring parcel of parish council land (outlined in red). The new school would be around twice the size of the current building and would occupy a corner of the site near the car park off Fakenham Road. Picture: GoogleBeetley and District Pre-School (outlined in orange) wants to build a new building on a neighbouring parcel of parish council land (outlined in red). The new school would be around twice the size of the current building and would occupy a corner of the site near the car park off Fakenham Road. Picture: Google

Beetley Pre-School is preparing to submit a planning application for a brand new building on a neighbouring playing field.

The school said its current home, a modular building on the site of St Mary's Community Primary School, was old, energy inefficient and too small to meet growing demand.

The land on which it wants to expand has been covered by a covenant since it was gifted to Beetley Parish Council in 1989, which prohibits it being used for anything except a playing field or car park for the school.

The council supports the pre-school's expansion plan and is looking for ways to amend the covenant to allow it, but homeowners whose properties back onto the land are objecting to the proposals.

St Mary's Community Primary School in Beetley, where Beetley Pre-School is based. The pre-school wants to expand on to parish council land, which is covered by a covenant. Picture: Google EarthSt Mary's Community Primary School in Beetley, where Beetley Pre-School is based. The pre-school wants to expand on to parish council land, which is covered by a covenant. Picture: Google Earth

They are concerned that the plans, which would move the pre-school closer to their homes, would increase noise levels and have threatened to seek compensation from the council if the build goes ahead.

Beetley Pre-School manager Diane Calvert said: "We are a small charity and cannot afford to buy land elsewhere so making use of a small section of parish land adjacent to the main school is our only option.

"We have made every effort to resolve the concerns of some neighbouring residents, to the extent that we have changed the proposed location of the building to be as far as possible from most houses and as close as possible to the main school.

"We hope our new pre-school project will be able to go ahead for the benefit of future generations of children in the village."

A parish council spokesman said some of the objecting residents had indicated they would seek financial recompense for lost value on their properties and relocation and legal fees should the covenant be removed to allow the development.

He said: "The cost of the removal of the covenant plus the possible compensation that will need to be paid could be considerable.

"The parish council is disappointed that objections have been raised as it feels that the re-siting of the pre-school would continue to provide education and welfare for the young prior to them attending the primary school in Beetley."

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