A WOMAN has criticised councillors who rejected her plan to build a 150-place children’s nursery because they feared it would encroach on countryside.
Angela Vulliamy runs Woodlands Early Roots, on Barnes Lane, Sarisbury Green, and after she saw demand for places grow she looked for ways to expand.
After three years of searching for a site, she decided to take a disused house and its grounds at 69 Botley Road, Park Gate.
The plans were sent to Fareham Borough Council’s planning committee and Mrs Vulliamy gave a deputation.
She said: ‘Once you experience the excitement a child shows when they see a bug crawling on a woodpile, or a bird in a nest, then you will understand why we want to teach our children about the countryside and how to look after it.
‘We feel we would enhance the countryside on this plot, – we would help our community, educate young children and create jobs.’
Officers argued Mrs Vulliamy’s plans, which included a car park and garden, would be partly on land defined as countryside and recommended councillors refuse the application.
The councillors were originally undecided in December and had since visited the site.
On the planning committee, Cllr Connie Hockley said: ‘I have a huge sympathy for nurseries and good nurseries are at a premium.’
But she added: ‘If we set the precedent in the countryside it could have a tremendous effect all the way along Botley Road.’
Cllr Peter Davies added: ‘The difficulty is, for some reason, this has become emotive because it is nursery. We all understand the importance of nurseries but we are here as a planning committee and we are talking about a commercial use of the site.’
The committee rejected the plans on the grounds of development in the countryside and traffic concerns.
Mrs Vulliamy said she was upset by the decision and undecided whether she would pursue it through to appeal.
She said: ‘This is what the government is calling for, to support small businesses. I don’t understand their decision.
‘We had no objections from neighbours. It is a derelict piece of land, it is rubble. Is there any point in appealing? We spent so much money. Do we really want to fight the council? It is too powerful.’