A popular and award-winning York nursery is set for a £1.2million upgrade and facelift.

City planners are recommending approval to plans to demolish and replace an existing annex and make other improvements at St Pauls Nursery School in St Pauls Square, York.

A report prepared for Wednesday’s meeting of planning committee recalls how St Paul’s Nursery is located in a Grade II-listed 200 year-old building set around a tree-lined squared west of the city centre.

“The new provision is designed to provide specialist accommodation for children with autism,” it said.


Plans have been amended since they were submitted in the summer to address conservation concerns.

The scheme is also coming before the planning committee as it is a council applications and objections have been received.

Six letters of representation have been received with objections saying the scheme will cause disruption during constriction, it will harm residential amenity and nearby buildings and take up play space.

The report said St Paul’s Nursery is the only non-privately operated nursery in the city, having been gifted by the Joseph Rowntree Trust in the 1940s to a predecessor authority.

It has capacity for 60 children, with 77 on its role, 16 of which have autism.

The nursery has a specialist facility for them, but this is in the 1940s-built extension which is in “poor structural repair.”

York Press: The outside of the nursery

At the same time, the school dining and food preparation area upstairs lack an adequate fire escape.

If approved, the school would provide a separate reception area for the facility together with a sensory room, a speech development room and two teaching areas. A self-contained outdoor play area would also be provided.

Furthermore, an existing window in the kitchen area would be widened to provide access to a new fire escape stair down the rear wall of the building with a separate fire escape from the dining area leading on to the rear of the roof of the new extension leading to a separate escape stair to the hard play area.

“The proposal is intended to remedy an identified deficiency in existing capacity rather than to provide additional by providing modern purpose-built accommodation,” the report continued.

Assessing the issues, council planners said the proposal would deliver “less than substantial harm” to the Conservation. Its benefits also need to be considered, that of modern facilities for the needs of autistic children, who face “a significant lack of such specialist provision within the city as a whole”, and the delivery appropriate fire escape provision.

Recommending approval, planners said such public benefits outweighed the harm caused to the surrounding Conservation Area. Harm caused during the construction process can be effectively managed.

They added: “In the planning balance the proposal is felt to be acceptable, and approval is recommended.”