Plans to open 16 more nursery spaces via an outdoor 'forest school' have been given the go-ahead.

Muddy Boots nursery in Acomb York will take over a former agricultural building in Boroughbridge Road, Poppleton, following approval on Wednesday, March 13.

The 1.54 hectares site accessed from the A59, which is in York’s green belt, will include two 7.4 metre high, 10.3 metre long tipis for five years.

Activities at the ‘forest school’ will include den building, assault courses and bug hunts, and there will be two portable toilets on site.

Gareth Arnold, a development manager at the council, said: “Officers consider that the use of the land is not inappropriate development in the green belt, but the tipis because of their size and permanence would be prominent it would fail to preserve the openness of the green belt.

“But in this case, we think very special circumstances that outweigh the harm to the green belt and any other identified harms are outweighed by very special circumstances.”

Andrew Nimmo, owner of the nursery, said: “The purpose of introducing the forest school is two-fold.

“Firstly it’s to create a versatile, multi-purpose space in response to a council grant we were awarded from the City of York Council last year.

“The grant was deemed vital to increase childcare capacity in the Acomb area, a highly populated area, where it is desperately in need of more childcare places.

“Secondly it’s to introduce a fantastic and inclusive learning experience through the provision of a forest school, viable to all the pre-schoolers at our Acomb and Poppleton sites.”

Sixteen children will be transported from Acomb to Poppleton each morning and taken back in the afternoon, creating 16 additional spaces.

Cllr Stephen Fenton said: “I think the benefits of the creation of additional spaces, admittedly not at this site but at the Acomb site, outweigh the harm to the green belt so I’m comfortable that it’s a sound application.”

Councillors on the planning committee voted through the application unanimously.