Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Children’s nursery hoping to grow

A CHILDREN’S nursery in Henley is set to expand under a new owner

A CHILDREN’S nursery in Henley is set to expand under a new owner.

Orchard Farm day nursery in Fair Mile has been taken over by the Old Station Nursery group.

The staff have been kept on but will now be managed by Julie Crake, who was running the group’s nursery at RAF Benson.

Orchard Farm will now care for up to 64 children under five and there are plans to hold holiday clubs for five- to 11-year-olds at the premises.

Mrs Crake said: “This is a setting with lots of outdoor space and as it’s on a farm the children are able to visit and feed animals such as goats, ponies and rabbits.

“The countryside setting is the perfect environment for children to learn, grow and play.”

The Henley nursery is the group’s ninth. It also runs an after-school club and a creche.

Former owners Nick and Carole Gorvin say they are sad to be leaving the nursery, which the couple opened in 2004.

Mrs Gorvin said: “It’s quite a challenging business to run and with all the new legislation we thought it was time to take a break and let a younger, more dynamic company take over.”

The couple plan to re-open their cattery, Cat’s Whiskers, next month. The business used to be situated on the nursery site but will now be based in a converted stable block.

Mrs Gorvin added: “I’m really looking forward to getting back into it as cats have always been my first passion.”

Meanwhile, plans to convert an empty building at the nursery into accommodation have been recommended for refusal by Henley Town Council’s planning committee.

The building, which was last used in 2005/2006, would have three bedrooms under proposals submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council. An earlier planning application was for change of use from storage to a three-bedroom bungalow but this has been amended to staff accommodation.

The Henley Society has recommended the application is refused and neighbours have objected.

Albert and Mary Carter said: “The need for staff bedrooms at a day nursery school stretches the imagination too far.

“If approved, it would set a precedent and could lead to further encroachments to the detriment of this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

Carole and Raymond Mitchell-Heggs said the development would “consolidate the built-up appearance of the site” and “increase the general activity in the area”.

But Doreen Thatcher, also of Fair Mile, supported the plans. She said: “As it was previously part of the nursery, the change of use would mean a lot less traffic going in and out and as there is a shortage of available accommodation I feel it is a good change of use.”

Mr Gorvin told the committee that the building had seen little use and the application had been devised with the help of the district council.

He added: “It can’t be seen from the road or by any of our neighbours.”

Councillor Martin Akehurst said he shared the concerns of neighbours and feared approving the plans could set a precedent.

Deputy Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said the application represented “creeping urbanisation” on the outskirts of the town.

But Councillor Laila Meachin said she had no problem with the application since the building wasn’t being used.

Councillor Sam Evans said the conversion would not set a precedent, adding: “It is not changing the outside or the appearance of the building.”

The committee voted by four to three in favour of recommending refusal.

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