Forest pre-school to be built on outskirts of Weston as planning application approved

The proposed site. Picture: Google

The proposed site. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

A forest pre-school is set to be created on the outskirts of Weston to give children from all backgrounds access to nature. 

Rachel Landen won planning permission on her second attempt to launch the preschool south of the Oldmixon estate despite enduring concerns about access. 

It will open 50 weeks of the year and offer spaces to up to 24 youngsters, with an expanded offer of care for children up to the age of 11 during school holidays. 

Mrs Landen’s original application for the site off Wentwood Drive was rejected and her appeal was thrown out – but the inspector said the location was acceptable.

MORE: Plan submitted to build outdoor preschool on edge of Weston.

In a statement to North Somerset Council planning bosses on December 16, she said: “I want to offer the young children in Weston and the surrounding area the amazing opportunity to attend a forest preschool, to learn, play and explore completely immersed in nature. 

“The site I want to use is perfect – it’s on the outskirts of Weston with easy access by foot, car and public transport. Most forest preschools are in the countryside and can be hard for some families to reach.

"This site is unique as children from all backgrounds will be able to attend. 

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“More than 4,500 children live in poverty in Weston. When children live in poverty they do not get the same opportunities as others. I want to give these families the opportunity to attend the forest preschool. 

“This unique forest preschool will have a positive, lifelong impact on everyone that attends.”

Proposing refusal, Councillor John Ley-Morgan said: “Anyone trying to approach this nursery will have to contend with anything up to 100 maybe even more cars taking residents from Keepers Gate going in the opposite direction. 

“A vehicle trying to get out we’ll have to reverse and back down Totterdown Lane to clear the junction and in my view that significantly adds to the chance of vehicle collisions at that point.

“This is an event which will occur at least twice a day. 

“Add to that recycling and rubbish lorries, supermarket deliveries and the occasional removals and Wentwood Drive will look like a bottle with a steady string of corks in it.” 

Planning officer Simon Exley warned members against using the location as a reason for refusal because the inspector had ruled that it was acceptable. 

The government official had said the impact on protected bats had not been properly assessed and raised concerns about vehicles turning. 

Cllr John Crockford-Hawley criticised the councillors opposing the scheme, saying: “Members are in grave danger of making an ad hoc decision which is based on nothing at all other than their emotion.”  

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