Downhall Under Fives

The West Area Committee on July 18th has the following update on Downhall Under Fives:


2.1 The old scouts building has now been demolished and removed from the site, although there are still certain works that are required to be undertaken by the scouts in order to fully re-instate the site prior to the surrendering of the lease.

2.2 The Downhall Under 5s Pre-School group who had expressed an interest in putting a new, but similar, building on the site have been progressing their research into costs of buildings, funding etc and have held discussions with Council officers regarding their planning application and possible lease details. They have identified a company who can supply an appropriate building and have had provisional plans drawn up of the site and building that could form part of their planning application.

It is the Pre-School?s intention, subject to finalising a few more details, to submit their planning application in the next few weeks with a view to it being heard at the Council?s Development Control Committee by September 2007. Issues around the covenant that exists on the site have been investigated by the Council?s Head of Legal Services, resulting in the view that the covenant itself would not prevent usage of the site for a pre-school type activity.

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    Downhall Under Fives has had a very tough 19 months, having been given notice to quit the scout hut in December 2005, they have spent the last 19 months in temporary accommodation, moving twice, and they are still based in Hullbrige, despite the fact that all the children who attend are from Rayleigh, and mostly the Downhall Rawreth Ward.

    As a member of the committee I know how hard we have worked to come this far, all we want is to be able to bring the pre-school back to Rayleigh, within the same ward as the schools that the majority of the children from the pre-school will attend. Downhall Under Fives is a registered charity, and a non profit making pre-school, we only operate term times, and for three hour sessions, if the school had to close it would be a great loss to the local community and would limit the number of pre-school places available to children below the age of five.

    As I have said we have had a very tough time to get this far, numerous hours have been spent talking, writing, and liasing with various departments, companies, and officers at the Council.

    All I would like to ask on behalf of Downhall Under Fives is that if you don’t want to lose the pre-school, and would like to see us back in the town/ward, write your letters of support now, we need as much support as we can get from the families of both present and past pupils, and from the local community in general. With more houses being proposed for this area, think about where you would send your child/children if places become limited.

    I am writing this appeal for support as a parent, and committee member of Downhall Under Fives, and not in any other capacity that I hold within the ward or Parish of Rawreth, I like many others am just concerned for the future education of our children. For letters of support please email as above. Many thanks in advance. Hayley Bloomfield.

  • Our daughter has just started the playgroup and she loves it! My husband and I wanted her to start going to playgroup as soon as she was old enough. As soon as she wakes up she asks if is “Playgroup today?”

    When we found out about the playgroup we took our daughter for a walk to Ferndale Open Space to see where the playgroup was and thought it was wonderful (obviously the Scout hut was not). We knew straight away that this was the environment that we wanted our daughter to be in at playgroup. One of the reasons we moved away from London was because we wanted a better environment for our children to grow up in.

    We don’t live in Hullbridge and because I don’t drive (because of medical reasons) I am dependent on lifts from my family or travel by bus to Hullbridge.

    If I travelled by bus then I would then have 2 options:
    Catch 4 buses:
    1st to take our daughter to playgroup, 2nd to go back home again,
    3rd to go to pick her up again and 4th bus journey back home with a tired and excited little girl, desperate to clutch her treasures & creations made at playgroup (which are rather large if they are paintings!).
    Travel would also be made more challenging because I’d need to travel with our new Baby in a pushchair.

    Or Catch 2 buses
    Obviously I could reduce the number of bus journeys but with the best will in the world, I would prefer not to have to kill 3 hours between start and end of session by walking the streets of Hullbridge (lovely as it may be) pushing a screaming Baby in a pushchair.

    If we can get the playgroup ‘home’ to Ferndale Open Space, we could easily walk there (back, there and then back home again).

    As I said the location of the playgroup was one of the reasons we wanted our children to go (that and it’s good OFSTED report).

    My husband & I hope that the playgroup will be able to move back soon, if they don’t then our second daughter will have to miss out on playgroup because it would be impossible for me to take our eldest daughter to ‘big school’ and do the travelling backwards & forwards to Hullbridge.

    I would like to say thank you to the staff for helping our daughter settle in & to everyone that have been working so hard to get a new building for the playgroup at the Ferndale Open Space.

    Jane Lydford

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