Montessori picIt was a full Committee Room at the Basingstoke Civic Offices as Basingstoke Councillors discussed the application for relocation of the Whitchurch Montessori Nursery to the ‘Knowlings Field’.

The proposals have caused considerable controversy in many quarters since Julia Lymbery submitted her application which would see the Nursery move from Testbourne to the new site early next year.

Earlier this year around 120 local residents packed the Parish Hall to hear Whitchurch Town Council make its own decision to Object. In addition the BDBC online planning site recorded 160 Public Comments of which 129 were Objection and 31 Supporting.

Having also consulted with a number of other bodies the recommendation from Basingstoke’s planning officers was that the proposals should be Approved.

Formal presentations

The Committee heard formal presentations from the Objectors, including from Whitchurch Town Council (Cllr Tracy Woodruff), the Whitchurch Residents Action Group (Virginia Lee) and from Borough Councillor Chloe Ashfield.

The Applicant (Julia Lymbery) spoke in favour as did Forest School supporter Lizzie Banks, Sharon Egan, and Borough Councillor David George.

Basingstoke Councillors followed with a whole range of questions and points with much focus on the choice of site, the evidence of need, biodiversity, access, style of building, traffic, the Climate Emergency and the current planning policies, before taking a vote to determine their decision.
Note was made that BDBC themselves had been maintaining the Knowlings as Open Space, that it was outside the ‘Settlement Boundary’ and that traffic concerns had been recognised by HCC in that they were working on local schemes.

The Application was REFUSED

After the meeting Julia Lymbery announced that she would not be lodging an Appeal and that renewed efforts would now go into finding an alternative site for the Montessori and Forest School Nursery. There was an air of high optimism that despite some of the disagreements that have taken place, that all will now work together to assist in this.

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