Little Learners Nursery in Purley handed potential lifeline
A nursery set for demolition to make way for parking spaces has been given a last minute reprieve.
Little Learners Nursery, which is based in the grounds of the new Harris Academy in Purley, has been open since 1991.
It was put forward at a planning committee last Thursday, that the nursery be demolished to create additional parking spaces for staff at the school.
More than 20 people objected to the application, with a petition containing 45 signatures also put forward to rebuff the proposal.
It was proposed that a condition be put in the application which would mean the nursery could not be removed from the school grounds until they found a new home.
The committee unanimously voted in favour of deferring the application to the next meeting so a solution could be found.
Joanna Bennett, director of the nursery, said: "We run a really good service and have been going since 1991.
"We are working on another property but we could be forced out immediately. I am concerned about the loss of jobs and the service we provide.
"Car parking is seen to be more beneficial than a nursery. The nursery should at least be re-homed."
Councillor Paul Scott, who championed the nursery’s cause at the meeting, said council officers overlooked the fact the nursery had planning consent to remain as it had been there for more than ten years.
He said: "I almost fell off my chair when I read that the closure of a small nursery building, which is something we need more of, was going to be knocked down for car parking and considered as sustainable development. How can that be development?
"I thought it should be helped and I think it should be tied into the planning consent. It was interesting that the legal officer thought there was something that could be done.
"Harris has offered to help, so that needs to be tied in to the consent. Hopefully it will get a good alternative, that is what we are fighting for."
Chris Randall, from the Harris Federation, said they were working with nursery to find a viable solution.