CONTROVERSIAL plans to extend a popular nursery in York have been sent back to city planners for another look at the scheme.

The over-subscribed Tiddlywinks nursery at Murton Way, Osbaldwick, wishes to expand into a neighbouring bungalow which would allow it to admit an extra 15 children - increasing numbers by almost 25 per cent.

A previous request by Tiddlywinks' owner Tracey Brooks for the scheme was withdrawn after council officers raised concern over traffic and noise.

Ms Brooks has applied to the city council to change the use of the property at 71 Osbaldwick Village for early years' educational use and her planning consultants say the issues over traffic and noise have been addressed in the new application.

The popular nursery, which has been at the site since 2004, looks after 58 children from the local area, from newborns through to pre-schoolers, and has twice been rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted.

The application proposes the conversion of the existing bungalow to provide additional nursery facilities to Tiddlywinks increasing the capacity from 58 children up to 73 and increasing staff numbers.

Maxine Squire, the council’s assistant director for education, has written to planners in support of the expansion, stating that it would "add to the number of high-quality places available for families and improve sufficiency in the area which will benefit children and families."

York Press: Maxine Squires of City of York Council is backing the schemeMaxine Squires of City of York Council is backing the scheme

She added: "Your plans will also support employment in the local area both in offering new opportunities for careers in childcare and supporting working parents in the local area."

Local parent Oliver Douglas, of Eskdale Avenue, Osbaldwick, is in favour of the scheme. He said there was a "chronic lack of good quality nursery facilities" and it "was really heartening to know that Tiddlywinks Day Nursery is bucking this trend and is hoping to expand."

He added: "Tiddlywinks is significantly oversubscribed and this is something I have experienced with my daughter being on their waiting list for over a year for additional sessions – there is a clear need for more nursery provision."

However resident Kevin Maddocks of Osbaldwick is objecting to the scheme and local Independent councillor Mark Warters is asking for it to be "called in" so it can be debated fully at planning committee rather than be given the go-ahead by a planning officer.

Mr Maddocks said he opposed the plans because they would mean the loss of a two-bedroom house amid a housing shortage and said there were current traffic problems liked to Tiddlywinks which "will only be exacerbated if allowed to expand".  He also objected to increased noise: "The noise from the nursery is sometimes intolerable. I feel for the residents around there." Finally, he argued that new car parking spaces painted in the car park area were a safety hazard.

Cllr Warters listed a long list of reasons for calling in the scheme. These included:  "Proposed loss of a residential dwelling from Osbaldwick Conservation Area, bungalow provision that is a useful facility for elderly or disabled residential use. Serious highway implications of any increase in the size of the current business that this application seeks to facilitate. Serious noise and disturbance; neighbouring amenity concerns over any increase in the size of the current business that this application seeks to facilitate.

"Concerns over the removal of the old school boundary wall that complements the existing old school house building within Osbaldwick Conservation Area. Concerns over business access arrangements to 71 Osbaldwick Village Green."

He concluded: "It should be noted that previous attempts with planning applications to increase the size of this business over the years have been met with refusal or have been withdrawn presumably to avoid refusal, the same objections and concerns over the highway implications of any increase in size of this business have been advanced to previous applications."

In a letter to planners, planning consultants Nineteen47 on behalf of applicant Ms Tracey Brooks, said the bungalow would undergo minor elevational changes and the garden boundaries provided with a 1.8metre high close boarded fence.

The existing garage is to be converted into an ancillary office and the existing car parking space principally used by staff, but available as a disabled parking space if required.

The existing parking area associated with Tiddlywinks is to be rationalised with white lines being painted to identify individual spaces resulting in nine spaces being provided in total. In addition two Sheffield bike stands are to be provided, offering cycle parking for up to four cycles.

Next to the existing main entrance, an ‘H-bar’ marking is to be painted on to Murton Way to ensure that the access remains clear and visibility is maintained when vehicles are leaving the site.

Other than access to the existing parking space, the existing access to the bungalow will not be used and all parents and children will use the existing access to Tiddlywinks.

York Press: The current Tiddlywinks site at Murton Way, OsbaldwickThe current Tiddlywinks site at Murton Way, Osbaldwick

The report concludes: "In this respect, it should be noted that Tiddlywinks is an established and valued local employer having started operating from this Site in 2004. The business for many years has a continual waiting list with this being compounded further following the unexpected closure of the nursery in the nearby village hall. Tiddlywinks wishes to build upon their continued success and provide spaces for more local children and it is evident that national guidance seeks to ensure that this ambition should be supported.

"Due to the limited capacity of the nursery, at times they are unable to offer places to siblings, with this necessitating additional car trips to alternative nurseries.

"Furthermore, demand is expected to increase with the Government setting out plans to fund two year old nursery places by April 2024 and babies from 2025. The proposed extension will be to support further spaces for two year olds in response to this Government commitment which is anticipated to result in a national shortage for such provision.

"Local demand for nursery spaces has also increased following the opening of Tiddlywinks with new housing including Derwenthorpe creating new homes for families within the local area."

For more information about the application (ref: 23/01696/FUL) visit:

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* In a earlier version of this story we reported Cllr Warters was opposed to the plan, but are happy to amend this to state that he wants the application to be decided by planning committee should planning officers be minded to give it the green light.