Sunday, 20 June 2021

Children's nursery planning to expand

A NURSERY in Benson is planning to expand and take more children.

Scamps of Benson, in Churchfield Lane, has applied for permission to remove three conditions imposed when planning consent was first granted in 2003.

However, some nearby neighbours have objected.

The conditions are:

l That the number of children who may be in care at the premises shall not exceed 50 at any one time on any one day.

l That the number of children aged between eight and 14 years who may be in care shall not exceed 25 at any one time on any one day.

l That no child shall be in care at the site, except between the hours of 7.30am and 6pm, Mondays to Fridays.

Scamps owner Sue Johnson says she wants to help as Benson is facing the prospect of hundreds of new homes, which would create a huge need for childcare.

“If you agree 800 to 1,000 houses, at least half of them are going to have families,” she said.

Ms Johnson said she was also responding to the Government’s offer of 30 hours of free childcare for parents of three- and four-year-olds which required childcare facilities to expand.

She said the nursery wouldn’t just increase its numbers overnight. “We would have to go to county and Ofsted,” she said. “You can’t just willy nilly have 100 kids.

“The key motivation for Scamps is to avoid a breach of condition at times of day when there may be crossover between groups, and in emergency situations where adverse weather conditions result in a later ‘walk-to-school’ for safety reasons.

“At these points there may well be more than 50 children on site as the drop-off times/leaving times of children cross over. An increased limit would ensure that there was no breach of condition.

“Scamps seeks to provide occasional out-of-hours care in emergency situations, which usually only involves a small number of children at very short notice and where the family as a whole is dealing with a distressing situation.

“Again, varying the conditions would allow Scamps to respond to the needs of families without resulting in increased noise.”

But objector Michael Winton, of Oxford Road, said: “I have no problem with a small increase in numbers but not an extension of the hours as this is a residential area and the neighbours have a right to some quiet time, especially at night and weekends.”

Anne and John Parr, of Pensfield, said: “We object to the application on the grounds of lack of clarity as vital information has not been supplied to allow affected parties to evaluate the impact of this application.”

Oxfordshire County Council is supporting the application.

David Mendham, sufficiency and access officer, early years and childcare, said: “Increasing the number of children that can attend and/or extending the opening times of the day nursery will support the delivery of statutory duties to ensure the sufficiency of early education and childcare places.”

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, is due to make a decision by June 16.

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