BROCKENHURST Pre-School has been given a boost in its battle for survival after its desired location for a new building won planning approval.
The school must raise £60,000 to pay for the building that will be its new home and wants to set up shop in the grounds of the village’s primary school on Sway Road (pictured).
It submitted a plan to the National Park Authority to replace an existing chalet to the north of the primary school’s main building with a flat-roofed timber structure comprising almost twice the floor area.
Deciding the bid, which was supported by Brockenhurst Parish Council, NPA officer Ann Braid noted the pre-school was “thriving” and the proposed development would be “set well back” and “screened” from Sway Road.
It would not be harmful to the amenity of any neighbouring residents or the character of the area by virtue of its siting and low-key nature, she ruled.
While larger than the existing chalet, the use of the proposed building would not lead to a significant increase in activity at the school, and the existing character of the National Park would not be eroded as a result of the development, she confirmed.
In a statement, the pre-school – which has been in existence for over 50 years – advocated the benefits the move would bring to youngsters.
“In our new location at Brockenhurst Primary School we would be able to provide longer hours, a dedicated child-focused facility and seamless transition from pre-school to primary school, as well as – most importantly – a secure and sustainable future for the pre-school.
“Children would continue to benefit from the nurturing environment our fantastic team of highly qualified staff have created, as well as the excellent facilities the school has to offer.
“This move would mean families within our village and the wider community would be safe in the knowledge that early years education would remain accessible to all.”
As reported in the A&T, the pre-school has for some years been based at Brockenhurst Village Hall, which is run and managed by Brockenhurst Village Trust (BVT). But it emerged the pre-school was leaving because BVT had increased its rent charges.
Clarifying the situation, the BVT revealed the pre-school had experienced financial trouble since 2013 and had been paying a reduced rent to the BVT under an agreement to 2018.
When that ended, the hall management sought to bring the pre-school’s rent charges “in line with other hall users”, but the pre-school could not afford that, so the BVT delayed implementing the new charges until September 2019 – when it decided to move elsewhere.
BVT agreed to hold the reduced charges to help it move but highlighted how there was “a significant gap” between what the pre-school paid compared to other users, while its costs – for maintenance, heat, light – had risen over the seven years the pre-school had been at the hall.
It is understood the pre-school has secured a deal with a Scandinavian company to construct the new £60,000 building.
The fundraising bid to buy the building has started well, having already reached half the target. But the pre-school warned there was “still a long way to go”.
It added: “Our hard-working fundraising committee led by pre-school parents had been doing a fantastic job raising money within the community, but their plans have been thwarted by the current situation.
“We are extremely grateful for the generosity and kindness shown to us by our village so far. It has been heart warming to receive such a positive response to our plans, and to know that we have the support of our village.”
Donations can be made via http://brockpreschool.co.uk/fundraising/