Hundreds sign petition of support for nursery with ‘noisy’ children

Footsteps Nursery, Leighton Buzzard... Photo:Google
Footsteps Nursery, Leighton Buzzard... Photo:Google

More than 400 people have signed an online petition in just a few days supporting a Leighton Buzzard nursery under fire for its “noisy children”.

Resident Laura Hunt decided to mobilise support for Footsteps Nursery in Albany Road on Friday, hours after reading the LBO’s online story featuring complaints from neighbours who said the sound of children playing was causing “unacceptable levels of disturbance”.

The business is seeking a variation to its opening hours of 7.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday – a half hour extension at both the start and end of the day – to allow more flexibility for parents.

And the nursery also wishes to remove another planning condition which restricts the use of its garden area. Currently the garden can only be used at 10.30am-11.30am and 2.15pm-3.15pm for no more than 10 children at a time.

The proposed changes, which go before Central Beds Council’s development control committee on Wednesday, March 1, have drawn 27 letters of objection from neighbouring properties, and a 45-signature petition from residents in Albany Road, South Street, Lovent Drive and Hartwell Grove.

They insist the noise from inside the nursery already causes unacceptable levels of disturbance for retired people, shift workers and home workers and that extending the hours, coupled with extra use of the garden, will only make matters worse.

Complainants describe the door knocker as “penetrating and wakes up neighbouring occupiers”, they say “it is impossible to work from home currently during the hours at which children are allowed to play outside, due to the high levels of noise”, and “the nursery should take children to the nearby park to play in”.

Aside from potential noise issues, objectors also highlight “critical” parking problems in Albany Road which they say would be exacerbated by an extension to the operating hours.

An initial counter petition contains 67 signatures from clients of the nursery, seven of whom live in Albany Road or the immediately surrounding streets.

But now Mrs Hunt has decided to show further support for Footsteps ahead of the planning meeting.

She said: “I started the online petition after seeing the article in the LBO. Being a resident of Hartwell Grove I received the petition against the extended opening and play times.

“My garden backs directly onto the alleyway that is opposite the nursery, and I can confidently say that I have never heard the noise from the nursery once and I have lived in the area for three-and-a-half years.

“My three-year-old son goes to Footsteps and has done since he was 6 months old, and I know how important outside play is for his development.

“Having only 15 minutes morning and afternoon is simply not enough. Footsteps do all they can in the restricted times they currently have but they also want what is best for the children.

“They have a wonderful garden, with a vegetable patch, ride on toys, climbing frames, a log cabin and animals that the children can’t enjoy as much as they would like.

“I understand the parking issues, however I know that this is not only from the nursery. I am forever seeing workers from the town centre parking their cars in Albany Road and walking to town. This has always been an issue and will continue to be as long as permits are not enforced in the area.

“The petition I started to back the nursery now has over 400 signatures, which is proof that people want what is best for the children’s development and happiness.

“I simply cannot understand why neighbours of the nursery would deliberately take photos of parents dropping their children off and block people’s cars in! I know that one neighbour even goes as far as moving his cars purposely to stop parents getting a space.”

She added that the nursery provides a “healthy and well-needed home from home to working parents”. “My son has flourished here and I am forever grateful to Footsteps.

“Outside play is an integral part of growing up and I hope that the petition will show the council that the extra play time is well needed.”

The petition can be found here...

Neighbours say noisy kids at nursery are a nuisance...