Plans for playgroup’s new home withdrawn

A planning application for a new building for Thurston Under Fives playgroup has been withdrawn following objections.

A PLAYGROUP chairman has expressed her frustration after plans for the group’s long-awaited new home were sent back to the drawing board.

Thurston Under Fives playgroup had been celebrating after residents voted at a public meeting to back a new building for the group in part of the village hall car park at Cavendish Hall, in Church Road.

But the planning application by Suffolk County Council’s director for children and young people, which was submitted to the county council, has now been withdrawn because it did not comply with planning policy.

Thurston Parish Council suggested the land, which it is trustees of, but objected to the plans because the facility would be too close to the village hall and an allowance should have been made for an external staircase and disability access at the hall.

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A spokeswoman for the county council said objections centred around the development’s proximity to local residents and issues around parking.

Under Fives chairman Clare Tope said the group had been pushing for a new facility for six years, and two projects had already fallen through.

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She said: “Whether it’s the right or wrong location that’s the one they [the parish council] have offered us so that’s what I’m frustrated about after putting all this work in.”

She said the group was concerned about whether the parish council could offer an alternative location for the building, which the county council has set �200,000 aside for.

Chairman of Thurston Parish Council, Stuart Campbell, said: “Yes, we agreed the location, but we also told them what the other requirements were.”

He added: “We support it [the project]. The village have told us we do.”

Miss Tope said they had been aware of the requirements, but not formally.

A spokeswoman for the county council said: “We are trying to resolve it [the issues] to make sure the next application is fit for the criteria.”

The group is expecting to hear what options may be available at the parish council meeting on July 7.

Miss Tope said a new site would still need to be near the primary school as the playgroup children fed into it.

The Under Fives currently operates from Cavendish Hall, but Miss Tope said the group had to close at 11.30am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which meant some parents may be forced to take their children elsewhere.

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