Downhall Under Fives planning application to return to their old site behind Ferndale Road comes before the District Council committee on March 27th – and it’s recommended for refusal. You can download the full agenda here, but here are the officers reasons:

It is proposed that this Committee RESOLVES to REFUSE the application for the following reasons:-

1. The Rochford District Replacement Local Plan (2006) shows the site to be within the Metropolitan Green Belt. The proposal is considered to be inappropriate development contrary to Policy R1 of the Local Plan.

Within the Green Belt, as defined in this policy, planning permission will not be given, except in very special circumstances, for the construction of new buildings or for the change of use or extension of existing buildings (other than reasonable extensions to existing buildings, as defined in Policies R2 and R5 of the Local Plan).

The proposed new building would develop a currently open and undeveloped site reducing the openness of the area to the detriment of the character and appearance of the Metropolitan Green Belt.

The applicant has failed to demonstrate any very special circumstances associated with the development that would outweigh the normal presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt. The resulting building would harm the character and appearance of the open and undeveloped nature of the site.

2. The proposal fails to provide sufficient off-street car parking within the site to serve the proposed use. The use proposed would require the provision of 6 No. car parking spaces for the staff and a further eight considered reasonable for the 25 potential children attending the pre-school to accord with standard D1 to the Council?s Supplementary Planning Document 5 Vehicle Parking Standards (January 2007).

If allowed, the proposal would result in congestion and overspill car parking in surrounding residential streets, together with indiscriminate parking within the highway in the immediate vicinity of the premises to the detriment of highway safety.

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  • We fully support the planning application made by the pre-school to enable it to return to their original premises. The pre-school is a non-profit making organisation (i.e. a charity) that is there to serve the local community, however has been forced to temporarily relocate to Hullbridge. If it was able to return to the Ferndale Road site, many parents would be able to walk their children to pre-school rather than being forced to drive. Therefore the number of parents parking in the locality would be small. Also has anyone noticed the number of builders parking there for the development on the Hullbridge Road????

    Our daughter started at the school in November 2006, and the staff there have been fantastic. We would be very disappointed if the facility was forced to close.

    Please seriously consider this planning proposal – our son is due to start there in September.and if these plans are not approved and the school is forced to close we do not know our son would now get a place at another pre-school as they have such long waiting lists.

  • I would like to give my full support to Downhall Under 5’s. Both my children went to the pre-school and enjoyed every moment of it. I could not have wished for a better start to their education.

    I used to live opposite the entrance to the footpath, and can not understand how anyone can say they had an issue with parking. Most people walked or if there were a few cars is was for a very short period of time. I certainly had no issues at all and do not feel that this is a justifiable reason for a decline in application.

    I only hope the council come to their senses and approve this application and allow Downhall under 5’s to return to it’s home.

  • As a resident of Ferndale Road, I would welcome the return of the pre-school. I have lived near the entrance to the footpath for as long as the pre-school has been running and have never had an issue with parked vehicles.
    Our council doesn’t think twice about building new homes in the area, but to provide these new (and existing) residents with the services and infrastructure they require seems to be an immense task for them to achieve.
    I know that the site is on green belt land but I also know that planning permission has been given in the past to green belt sites.

  • Whilst this proposed property is in a green belt area, there has been a scout hut on this site for many years used by both the scouts and Downhall under 5’s. The proposed development merely seeks to replace a condemned building with a building fit for purpose.

    Rather than being detrimental to the local community it will provide a much needed facility in Rayleigh. Local councillors regularly state that we need to develop the local infrastructure e.g. schools and health services as well as roads. This is a real opportunity to improve the local infrastructure and provide a much needed facility in Rayleigh without any increased detrimental effect to the environment. Parking is not an issue here given the number of pre-school children who live within walking distance.

  • I am amazed at the apparent barriers put in the way of such a grand scheme to help care for and educate our kids.
    My wife and I invest a lot of our time in this area and I am quite annoyed at the apparent barriers being put in the way here.
    Why can’t our institutions work with organisations like Downhall U5’s to actually help them do what they want and need for our kids, instead of investing time and Council money dreaming up technical reasons ‘why not’ ?
    Given the scale of this facility, and having visited and driven past the site on quite a few occasions, there can’t really be any issues that can’t be worked through and resolved ? Surely ????

  • Just to clarify for Debbie and others – permission has NOT been refused yet.

    The council planning officers are RECOMMENDING refusal because they don’t think it complies with council policies.

    It’s up to councillors to vote on this tomorrow night.

  • My son Joe attended Downhall under 5’s which was vital in preparing him for Primary School.

    I find it hard to believe that the council would not give permission to such a beneficial facility for the local community. They have granted permission for houses and shops to be built over the local area and now need to provide something back to the already over populated area.

    Having Dowhall under 5’s on the doorstep of the community would allow more people to walk their children instead of having to drive to Hullbridge and park outside in a built up residential area. This would surely be less of a safety issue than it currently is with there being no option for the parents to drive their children to the playschool.

    Downhall under 5’s is a vital part of this area and I hope the council make the right decision this time.

  • Both my children went to Downhall Under Fives and they loved it! I never had a problem with getting them there in the morning even when they were tired, or there was something good on the telly! I strongly believe this was down to the GREAT staff. They are extremely friendly, approachable, and actually care about the children they are trying to teach both about life as well as educating them. Just read their Ofsted reports! If this pre-school was to close, and that is NOT an idle threat it really could be a possibility, then it would be a massive loss to all who have attended past and present. Where would our children go? That is also without mentioning the loyal staff that would lose their jobs! It was always our intention to try to get our own building and with the Scout Hut falling in to disrepair, we had been fundraising to get our new building. We have been extremely lucky not to have lost any children so far in our moves but that was due to the fact that our parents believed that we would always be able to return to our home. We have not taken any children from the Hullbridge area as this was always just temporary accommodation.
    I can’t believe that the planning department has proposed to refuse this application. I used to see these refusals in the paper and think that they were doing a great job for us but after reading all the background in respect of Downhall Under Fives application, I am starting to doubt that this may be the case. Has anyone from the planning department been down to look at the site recently? Have they seen how it has been left since the demolition of the dilapidated Scout Hut? If they had then they would see that this is an eyesore and a new building would only improve the view. As has been mentioned numerous times before on these replies, the plans submitted follow the same footprint as what was previously there. The building would also be fenced in and be surrounded by trees as previous, and the pathway would be made good. The only difference to how the site has been for the past 19 years worth of use is that the building would be turned round by 180 degrees so that the front door would be at the other end to allow us disabled access without even more additional cost.
    When we were given notice to quit the Scout Hut, and again after we had to leave the Cricket Pavilion in Rawreth lane, we exhausted all the possibilities of new premises. I wouldn’t mind but certain people/departments within Rochford District Council have always fully known our intentions. We have been open from the start. There are no community buildings in the Downhall area even though there has been all the additional housing built over the last few years. We approached ASDA as recommended by Rochford District Council, who are supposed to be providing a ‘Community Hall’ and apart from the fact that this was being built on the first floor(!!) they wouldn’t consider us using it as this would provide a ‘conflict of interest’ when they try to market and let their awaited provision for a private day nursery business.
    I understand that we need to protect our Greenbelt land, but with all the additional family housing that has been agreed and built in the area, where are all those young children supposed to go to pre-school? Not everyone can afford to send their children to private daycare or pay for additional sessions with high price tags. Our name is DOWNHALL Under Fives as this is the area that we have always serviced.
    I was one of the parents that had to drive to the pre-school as I live over the other side of Rayleigh, but I never saw a problem with the parking. There are plenty of areas that you can park without being in anyone’s way. Yes it does make the road is slightly busier for residents but this is for around 20 minutes in the morning and again at pick up time and this is only for the parents that have to drive. Believe it or not, most of us do like to walk if we can! Please also remember this is school term times only so this is not of 52 weeks of the year only around 38-40 weeks.
    Please come to your senses Rochford District Council and AGREE this application.

  • My daughter attended Downhall Under Fives when it was situated at the Scout Hut and I cannot remember there ever being a problem with the parking. My son now attends the pre school and I would be walking him to the Scout Hut location after I have dropped my eldest at Downhall Primary School – like many others who attend.

    Both of my children settled very quickly at this pre school and have benefitted extremely from attending Downhall Under Fives. I think the staff and the school do an excellent job and made the transmission from pre school to reception class at Downhall Primary School for my daughter no problem at all. It would be a great shame to lose this excellent pre school and it would be lovely to bring it back into Rayleigh so that even more people can benefit from this pre school. The people on the committee and staff for the pre school have worked so hard in getting where they are today in the hope that they will return to the Ferndale site. It would be a real disappointment to have planning permission refused on the basis that it is on a green belt site and because of the parking – especially seeing that this site was used for nearly 20 years as a pre school. The use of the building is not changing from what it was then so why should there be such a problem now!

  • I have only lived in this area for almost 2 years and am amazed that Rochford DC is recommending refusal for this development. I have no knowledge of Downhall Under 5s but reading the comments from those who know, and love, this organisation, one can only have the highest regards for them. Please, everyone, who have connection with this worthwhile community orgaisation, contact Rochford DC immediately, and especially before the meeting tomorrow, with their approval, because the council not only takes note of objections but more with public approval of the application.

  • We totally and wholeheartedly SUPPORT Downhall Under Fives preschool and their bid to move back to the site where they sucessfully ran the preschool for 19 years in Ferndale Road.

    The alternative is a shame and a sham.

    The little people of the future lose out, the winners as ever always appear to have the deepest pockets.

  • I am very disappointed that the Council have been so very narrow minded in failing to support this application.

    The objections are ridiculous and the fact that this is a part of our community trying to improve our community has been entirely overlooked.

    very saddening indeed.

  • I support the planning application from Downhall Under Fives. It would provide a much needed service and benefit to those who will be the future of our community.

  • Out of interest, I’ve just found out that the tape was cut to open the 7th Rayleigh Scout Group HQ off Ferndale Road officially on the 5th March 1983. 25 years ago!!

  • It is such a shame that it has come to this. Downhall Under 5’s is a very good pre-school. We sent our daughter to a private nursery/pre-school and she did not learn half of what our son has learnt in the past 2 years that he has been at Downhall Under 5’s. I wish I knew of them then. Our son started just as the pre-school moved to the cricket pavillion temporarily. I walk every where I can and to drive the short distance was bearable. Then we had to relocate to Hullbridge which is more of a drive from where we live off Downhall Park Road, not only the expense of petrol but also the time it takes and the number of cars on the road. If the pre-school was on their old site of 19-20 years in Ferndale Road I would most definately, as like other mums that attend the pre-school now, would be walking. I’m sure if planning permission was put in for a housing estate or a supermarket there would be no objection, it would be accepted straight away. Do they not think what would happen to the staff and children that attend there now? Where would they all go, pre-schools are already full in Rayleigh. Aren’t we trying to encourage our children to walk rather then drive to school.

  • To add a little background information I was a member of 7th Rayleigh scouts up to 1981, meeting at Downhall School and remember watching the Scout hut being craned into position.

    I think the hut was obtained by the Scout Leader, Tony Beaumont after it was used as a site canteen during the construction of the M25.

    The Scouts would have maintained the building. However, the Scout Troop has closed now.

  • I think this is a case of the world gone mad. In the last 10 years approval has been granted in this area for numerous new housing estates and a supermarket, but we are expected to believe that, where that was acceptable, a dedicated pre school building will have a detrimental affect on the local enviroment.

    If the council are going to keep approving new housing in this area there needs to be a corresponding increase in facilities for the community, and that includes good quality local pre school provision (as well as other local amenities and services, which the council also dont seem bothered about).

    Thought should have been given to the amount of open space in the area before the park site was redeveloped, including the new Asda – I am sure that far more “open space” was given up with that deal than will be by this proposed pre school development.

    As for the parking issue, again, this didnt seem to be a consideration when the Park site redevelopment was approved, as anyone who has tried to visit the redeveloped site at school drop off and collection time can confirm. I think any future development would struggle to cause greater congestion and dangerous parking than you can find there.

  • I support the idea of having the Down Hall under 5’s at the Old Scout Hut site. It is a venue that should be replaced and then perhaps other local groups can use it as well.

  • Both our kids attended Downhall Under 5’s and thoroughly enjoyed their time there.

    We can not believe that the Council would even consider refusing planning permission – the objections are quite frankly outrageous!

    Come on Councillors – you know what to do.

  • Anything that doesn’t allow young children to be looked after and supported is frankly shameful.

    I hope the council can see that this ludicrous situation does not continue any longer.

    Sort this out immediately, for the good of the community and the youngsters from the area.

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