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South Croydon nursery school to make way for car park

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A NURSERY school is to be kicked out of its home to make way for a car park.

Little Learners Day Nursery, which is based at Harris Academy Purley, in South Croydon, has been given six months to move after the school was given planning permission for 23 parking spaces.

A school spokeswoman said the plans had originally been part of the school's redevelopment in 2010 but are being put in motion now because the nursery's lease has expired.

Croydon Council's planning committee approved the proposal for the car park in Kendra Hall Road last Thursday.

Councillors heard that the school has signed a legal agreement saying it will not demolish the nursery until it finds a new home – or July of next year.

Joanna Bennett, owner of the 27-space private nursery, told the meeting that the nursery is in talks over a new site but a lease has not yet been signed.

She said: "With the assistance of the academy we have found a suitable property but we are still negotiating to sign a lease.

"Our concern is what happens if it falls through before completion or is not awarded planning permission."

The council had received 22 individual objections and a 45-signature petition against the plans.

Councillors were told planning law meant the application must be decided on planning factors such as traffic impact and look, rather than on the fate of the nursery.

Ms Bennett added: "There is not only the issue of jobs and the service we provide to the community, but the emotional impact that would have on the children that we care for.

"I personally am still stunned that the planning law could override the emotional welfare of the children."

Chris Randall, project director of the Harris Federation, said the school has set aside £10,000 to help the nursery relocate.

The sum will help cover planning permission and surveyors' fees, refurbishments and removal expenses.

The school is also currently letting the nursery stay in its premises rent-free since its lease ran out in September.

A spokesman for the school said the nursery could not be relocated on site because the land is green belt.

She added: "It is the normal amount of spaces for a school of this size and until now we have had fewer than this.

"The car park is needed to enable staff to park on-site and avoid parking on Kendra Hall Road, which is a notorious bottle neck."

Labour councillor Paul Scott, who represents Woodside, said at the planning meeting: "I remain disappointed that the current planning system does not give any protection to the nursery and that a car park is considered sustainable development, especially when the car park results in the demolition of such a facility."


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