70 children affected as Cheshire nursery forced to close

A Cheshire nursery is to permanently close after its lease ends at the current building.

Moulton Nursery School and After School Club near Winsford has failed to find a suitable alternative building after planning permission to convert a house into a nursery was rejected.

The well-loved nursery on School Lane will be closing next August, after initially being forced to close before December.

Read more of the top stories from across Cheshire here.

It means that 70 children who use the nursery regularly will be affected by the closure, and five members of staff will be losing their jobs.

Louise Hood started Moulton Nursery School and After School Club seven years ago.

The nursery offers vital services for the community; breakfast club before school, all-day government funded care for two, three and four year olds, after school club, and holiday clubs.

Over summer, the nursery was able to offer free places to children on free school meals.

The business is currently in a building owned by Moulton Adventure Group (MAG).

Their lease with MAG was initially ending at the start of 2022, yet the company have granted them an extension until August after pressure from the village locals.

However, after this date, the nursery has nowhere to go.

Children enjoying their time at Moulton Nursery School and After School Club
Children enjoying their time at Moulton Nursery School and After School Club
(Image: Moulton Nursery School and After School Club)

Louise has struggled to find a suitable building for the nursery in the village.

Louise emotionally said: “It’s caused us to close our doors because we can’t find anywhere else to go.

“We’ve tried so many different avenues, we’ve looked for land… there are no societies within the village that can offer space.

“It’s caused a lot of upset.”

Plans to renovate an old school canteen fell through as there was not enough space.

Louise then raised money to buy a local village church, but was outbid by a developer.

She was disappointed when she lost the church: “I felt like we offered the community a lot of support.

“I felt a little let down because I thought the community needed us and we had offered full asking price… I wasn’t trying to get it cheaper.”

What should be done to help Nurseries set up and stay active? Have your say in the comments section.

Eventually, Louise found a bungalow two doors down from their current position on School Lane.

Yet, their planning permission to change the dwelling into a nursery was rejected based on traffic issues and concerns for noise levels.

A document from 23 November from Chester West and Chester council wrote : “The nature and location of the proposed use and likely increase in vehicle traffic would give rise to significant adverse impacts on the health and quality of life of neighbouring occupiers in terms of noise and disturbance.

“The proposal would result in additional vehicle trips through the creation of a new nursery (in addition to the retention of an existing community building) which would exacerbate existing parking and turning issues along School Lane.”

The nursery offers breakfast club, after school care, day care and holiday clubs
The nursery offers breakfast club, after school care, day care and holiday clubs
(Image: Moulton Nursery School and After School Club)

Louise said it is unfair that the nursery is getting penalised for the possibility of another group in the MAG community building causing traffic.

“I thought it would be nice and easy to move,” explained Louise, “Our parents walk their children from the village.

“We don’t actually get cars, so they couldn’t use that as an excuse.

Regarding the noise concerns, Louise said: “We’re already here, we’re only moving two doors away.”

The news has had a huge impact on parents and children alike in the village, with many “in tears”.

Parents who need before and after school help may struggle to find alternatives in the village.

One parent told Cheshire Live anonymously how she fears moving her three-year-old son to a different nursery will hinder his learning.

She said: “ “I’m concerned with having to settle him in somewhere else… he’s been very disjointed because of COVID.

“To put him somewhere else, I think is going to affect his development and I think he’s going to go backwards if we don’t get the right setting for him.”

Her son was quiet and shy at this old nursery, yet since attending Moulton nursery, he has come out of his shell.

She said: “The difference in him is unreal.

“He loves it there, he skips into nursery, doesn’t even look back at all.

“I don’t want him to go anywhere else.”

The nursery is just a four minute work from their home, yet the closest alternative nursery will be a fifteen minute drive, adding more than 30 minutes onto their morning commute.

Louise does not want to move her business out of the village.

She said: “Our children come from this village, and we use our community with them so much.

“I don’t want to lose that, I don’t want to move outside of the village and the children lose the community experience that is really important for them.”

Children from Moulton Nursery School and After School Care looking at farm animals
Children from Moulton Nursery School and After School Care looking at farm animals
(Image: Moulton Nursery School and After School Club)

The rising number of residents in Moulton have led some to believe that there should be more nurseries, not less.

Moulton Parish Council said: “The Parish Council received an email confirming the application had been rejected only after this had happened.

“We were surprised that the application had been rejected and believe that CWaC failed to take into account the realities of the situation or the needs of the community.

“We recognise the importance of this facility within the village and we are working with the nursery and other relevant parties to see if a solution can be found that will allow them to continue providing their services to the families of Moulton.”

Moulton Adventure Group said that the nursery had outgrown their building, and this was mutually agreed.

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After a meeting at the school last night (24 November) and pressure from the parents, they have allowed a seven month extension on the contract until August 2022.

They commented: “We have offered our support to [the nursery] alongside the Parish Council and Moulton Primary School, especially during 2020 when we allowed the [nursery] to use our premises free of charge for 6 months and then at a reduced rate.

“The [nursery] was offered a monthly rolling contract option back in July 2021 on the premise there was a new site on offer, provisionally until September 2022 once the current contract expires on 31st January 2022.

“This was to provide reassurance to the Primary School, Parish Council and [the nursery] to assist in their transition.

“Unofficially the avenues explored for new sites have sadly not been viable, resulting in the current situation.

“We have always advised that we would welcome the before and after school clubs as the requirements for their provision is something that can be met by The Moulton Adventure Group building.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council has not responded to requests for a comment.

Cheshire Live – Cheshire