Politicians hit out at Onchan nursery over pupil numbers

Children at the Beehive nursery in Onchan run off steam in the play area with proprietors Richard and Viv Welch

Children at the Beehive nursery in Onchan run off steam in the play area with proprietors Richard and Viv Welch

Have your say

ONCHAN Commissioners have recommended refusal of a planning application by a children’s nursery to increase its number of pupils.

The commissioners have said the original planning consent to the nursery had stipulated an upper limit of 55 pupils but this number had consistently been exceeded.

But head of the Beehive nursery Richard Welch is adamant the nursery fully complies with all criteria and regulations set down by the Department of Social Care and there is no problem with the number of pupils they have.

‘We’ve had around 70 children for the past 20 years,’ he said.

‘Planning said that we were only to have 55 but things have changed over the years and we have always followed the guidelines.

‘Really the number of pupils attending a school is a matter for the board of education. It’s not a matter for the planners once somewhere has been passed as an educational establishment.’

At a recent Onchan Commissioners’ meeting, members said they felt they did not have the knowledge or exerience to make a judgement on the numbers of children allowable as this fell under the remit of the government’s nursery regulations and these would take into account the number of staff, space, age of the children and fire regulations. It was felt the decision regarding numbers should be set by the Department of Social Care.

However commissionsers also said they had heard of discontent from neighbours of the nursery, on Hillberry Road, about ‘noise pollution’ and parking problems.

They added there had been a continuous disregard to the regulations and planning conditions on pupil numbers.

For this reason they recommended refusing the application by the nursery to increase the 55 pupil limit set by planners.

But Mr Welch said the matter was in effect a fait accompli.

‘We’ve had way over 55 for 20 years,’ he said. ‘Planning can’t do anything because there is a statute of limitations on these things. We can supply evidence of 20 years or more. It’s established and it is not harming anyone.’

On the issue of noise, he said the children enjoyed playing in small groups in their outdoor play areas but the noise was far from excessive.

Parking did not cause a problem, he added. Just one resident he said had voiced concerns, though the vehicles in question had been legally parked.

iomtoday contacted Onchan Commissioners over a two-day period for further comment on the matter but the authority didn’t respond.

Back to the top of the page