The number of children able to use Coogee Nursery’s rear garden will also be restricted to up to 30 at a time as part of the conditions imposed by Lichfield District Council when its planning committee granted permission for the expansion on Monday.
Capacity at the nursery in Streetly, Sutton Coldfield, is set to increase from 25 to 50 places when the residential part of the single-story building is converted. The expansion will also create five new jobs.
Agent Paul Harris, who spoke in support of the application on behalf of Little Ripley Day Nurseries Ltd at the meeting, said: “The day nursery is currently full, accommodating 25 children. It has a long waiting list for places and this is testimony to its reputation, success and location suitability within an established residential suburb.
“The existing car park is to be rationalised to accommodate additional spaces and negate the need to park on Burnett Road during drop off and pick up times. The existing traffic restrictions in Burnett Road will also assist to deter inconsiderate parking.
“Adjoining occupiers would not be exposed to any significant additional noise or disturbance during the day. We note the condition officers have recommended to safeguard this, by virtue of the limit on children that can be outside at any one time, and that is considered to be an appropriate level.
“The applicant is more than happy to continue with the current status quo which is 25. That, combined with acoustic screening, is going to result in a demonstrable betterment to any amenity impacts residents might currently experience.
“They wish to ensure they remain good neighbours whilst meeting a pressing need in the area for high-quality children’s day care. Comments have also been made in support of the application which indicate that increased capacity is required and that will have a positive impact on the local economy.”
There were six supporting letters and 13 objections sent to Lichfield District Council in response to the plans.
Shenstone Parish Council also voiced concerns including additional traffic and parking issues. Staffordshire County Council’s highways department has raised no objections however, providing the existing access is closed and the new access and parking arrangements are in place before the extended facilities come into use.
William Daly, who spoke on behalf of residents of Burnett Road and Leslie Road who oppose the plans, said: “Residents feel their views have been ignored by the planners. Little Aston has a higher proportion of elderly people and has no need for another nursery – certainly not for 50 children – whereas three—bedroom bungalows are in short supply.
“Most of the children will not come from Little Aston or the wider Lichfield area but Birmingham and Walsall, in petrol and diesel cars. So much for the environmental policy.
“The proposal seeks to dig up the existing front driveway and garden which is in keeping with the residential nature of the road and construct an open 16-space car park which is more in keeping with a Kwik Fit exhaust and tyre garage or a drive-through McDonalds. This will be an abomination in the road and completely contrary to the guidance in the Little Aston Neighbourhood Plan.
“This car park is only inches away from my garden patio, which will subject me and my family to filthy fumes and carbon monoxide if I risk sitting out to eat my breakfast. I can see many of the parents will leave their engines running for the air con in summer and heater in winter, having conversations on their mobile phones and me and family members suffer the consequences to our lungs.
“The 16-space car park will be left completely unsupervised of an evening and at weekends and completely open to ne’er do wells and a magnet for drug dealers and other unsavoury characters – a perfect spot for teenagers to race and do wheelies on their off-road bikes. Why is the proposed car park completely open when the business is closed?
“This change of use from a three-bedroom bungalow to a 50-children nursery is completely unwanted in the local community.”
Planning officers recommended the application for approval and committee members voted to pass it on Monday with an added condition preventing outside play in the back garden before 8.30am.
Councillor Jamie Checkland said: “If there are 25 kids in the garden at 7am that sounds quite rowdy – can that be time-limited to after 9am?”
Chairman Councillor Thomas Marshall said: “A lot of the neighbours probably wouldn’t be very happy if they had a lot of rather rowdy children running around at five past seven.
“If you were a neighbour of this property would you feel aggrieved, if at five past seven in the middle of summer, you had a lot of children making lots of noise because they’re having a wonderful time playing?”