Toftwood baby centre plans get the go-ahead
- Credit: IAN BURT
Nursery managers hope to help meet some of Norfolk's shortfall of childcare provision for under-twos after their expansion plans were given the green light.
Johnny and Justine Watts, who run Little Owls Day Nursery from a converted bungalow on School Lane, in Toftwood, Dereham, had applied to Breckland Council to expand their business into the neighbouring bungalow – creating Norfolk's first dedicated baby nursery in the process.
The proposals, however, were met by strong opposition from people living nearby and councillors for the area who raised concerns about traffic and congestion problems and the lack of parking for staff and parents dropping off their children. At yesterday's Breckland planning committee meeting, it was heard how Mr and Mrs Watts had struck a deal with The Millwrights Arms to enable their staff to park in the pub's car park while at work.
It was also heard how the nursery, which the couple set up 10 years ago, was at full capacity and that the expansion would help meet the demand for childcare provision for children aged under two.
Opinion was divided at yesterday's meeting. Councillors Terry Lamb and Paul Claussen said they felt it was right for the nursery to be close to the neighbourhood, near the schools.
You may also want to watch:
Other councillors echoed objectors' concerns and said the nursery had 'outgrown' the area.
They voted five in favour to approve the plans, as per the officers' recommendations, and five against, leaving committee chairman Nigel Wilkin to make the final decision. He voted in favour of the proposals.
- 1 'I can't carry it' - Shock as plant starts growing eight inches a day
- 2 Man in 20s drowned in Bawsey Country Park lake
- 3 Amazing photos show storms over Norfolk – and there are more to come
- 4 Elderly man took his clothes off at Norwich park
- 5 Man, 20, who drowned at Bawsey Pits is named
- 6 Bungling car thieves dump £92,000 Range Rover
- 7 School shut after ceiling tile falls on to class of children
- 8 See inside the 'tiny mobile homes' built from scratch for £95,000
- 9 Aldi planning four new stores in Norfolk
- 10 Norwich bar gets back licence after tearful appeal by owner
He said: 'Measures are being taken to alleviate parking issues and I don't think the parking issues outweigh the need for the nursery.'
Under the plans, the number of spaces will increase from 59 to 84. Mr and Mrs Watts said they hope to buy the property by the end of September, start building work in October and have the extension open by January.
Mrs Watts said they were 'elated' to get the go-ahead. 'We have a massive waiting list. We're a reputable nursery and want to meet the needs of parents and children and give the children the very best.'