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Can anybody help? Yesterday a guy came to see me to say he wanted to change a guest house into a day nursery. Fine you might say, except for the fact it is 12 houses away from my setting.

 

This guy has no background in childcare, but is basically a developer and somebody has told him it would make an excellent nursery. And to be fair, the site is good. I have told him a nursery isn't a money making machine people seem to think it is, but I think he is just seeing £ signs.

 

The area I live in is saturated with day nurseries and other childcare providers, which I tried to explain to him. But he reckons his would be the 'Marks and Spencers' of nurseries and so would attract parents from all around. At least 6 new nurseries have opened up within a 2 mile radius within the last 6 months.

 

My question is? Is there anyway I can block this nursery opening given how many settings are open around it. It's not I fear the competition, its just that there aren't enough children to go around. My place certainly isn't as asthetically pleasing as his will be, because he has the money to make his look spectacular.

 

Really worried as this is my livelyhood.

 

Any suggetions?

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Hi ,

 

you dont say what the immediate area is, usually planning relies on how the development is perceived by the neighbours, issues such as increase in traffic, noise, and parking can cause them to object, if you are in a residential area.

Most Local Authorities have undertaken childcare sufficiency audits recently they would have the information regarding spare capacity in your area, your local sure start office may have this information.

Ultimately there is probably nothing you can do as an individual, if the planning is passed....except a little extra marketing of your nursery , press releases etc.

Good luck

 

Julie

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Thanks for your support.

 

I think I will phone the sure start office to get information regarding spare capacity. Around a mile away the PLA are just building a large Children's Centre, so this will obviously be another drain on 'available children' as well.

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From a local authority chilldcare point of view, they can't do anything to block it, but they can say that they won't support the new nursery with funding, training, business support etc if he proceeds. If he has got in touch with the LA they should advise him to this extent and should recommend areas where they may be gaps in the market and they would be able to support him.

 

As far as planning is concerned - all the neighbours will have the opportunity to object when the plans are submitted but I'm not sure how much planning he would have to apply for as it is already used for a business i.e. there is no change of use from a residential property - not my area I'm afraid.

 

Definitely contact your local development team/local authority...

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Not too sure here but he is changing the use from a guest house to a nursery-so there will be different criteria to be applied. I know it can be difficult to change from a shop into a restaurant so the same may apply here.

The main problem he will have will be the one of traffic. There will be a great increase in cars coming and going in comparison to a guest house.

It may be a good idea to contact other providers in the area to find out what their numbers are like and how it will affect them.

Linda

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he has to change the use because bed and breakfast is not the same planning use as a Nursery. He would have to show he has enough room for parking etc. I'm surprised that your LEA is not giving out advice on over population of Nurseries and places good luck

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Do you know who/what is on either side of his guest house? I would say it stands a chance of being refused if there are residential houses at either side. It sounds like it will have to go from a C1 to a D1 which won't be a simple change of use.

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I would seek advice from someone in the know regarding the planning, not sure if you can object or not.

 

You are concerned that his may look better than yours on the outside, but yours is already up and running with good staff and a client base that has survived the other provisions recently opening near by... does that not say that your families are happy and very content with your provision?

 

Sit back & wait it out, if there is not enough client base in your area then the other newer settings will be the ones to feel it rather than an established setting such as yours.

 

Any one can sugar coat a building but it is the relationships, happy children, reputation, and the smiles on the children and families as they enter and leave that counts. (Ohh & ofsted reports, nearly forgot them!)

 

Things like this make us all feel very insecure, think of your strenghts, if you need back up ask the parents why they have selected to use you.

 

Sometimes we all need to be made to jump!! bussiness is bussiness as my father would say! use this time to think about the good that your setting is doing and draw strength from it.

 

Talk is cheap, requirements are tough!

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I would definitely ring your Local Authority for advice - they have a duty to ensure there is sufficient childcare provision, and I'm wondering if their advice will be sought during the planning process - ie with regard to whether there is a need for a new nursery in the area.

 

Are you a member of the Pre-school Learning Alliance? If so, Lawcall will be able to give you good advice, as will the PLA about how you can proceed in this very difficult situation. I think you need access to someone who has specialist knowledge - you could also speak to the planning department and find out what grounds for appeal against the decision might be.

 

How about your local councillor and MP?

 

Good luck - keep us posted!

 

Maz

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I'd agree strongly with Lesley's comments. I think most parents have the sense to look past the smell of new paint and gleaming furniture, and are more interested in reputation and the experience of the staff.

 

If you have built up a good relationship with your parents over the years you have marketing that he cannot buy, and that will be your strength. He also hasn't yet got to the stage of adding up costs and benefits (hire of experienced managers and staff, conversion of the property, the inevitable costs that build up before you bring in enough customers to make a profit, which in an area like yours may take a long time).

 

So it may never happen. And if it does, have faith in the setting that you provide Sheila. Smaller settings with experienced providers are getting harder to find now, and there are lots of parents who still want them! :o

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You've had some great advice from others, Sheila: I just wanted to add some support, too. xD

As an owner of a small nursery myself, I've been in the position of being aware of new or greatly improving settings in the vicinity. Occasionally, I've lost children to them, although it's almost always because I'm only open in the mornings, and families wanted full daycare.

 

As those great posters above have said, now is the time to focus on how good you are, and why parents choose you. He's clearly mad if he thinks you can make megabucks from running a nursery! I wouldn't be at all surprised that, if he opens at all, it won't be long before he starts to loose lots of money due to the low numbers of children, and the whole thing will fail. Not wishing this on anyone who is setting up in an area of need, but it's clearly not fair on existing providers to do this, in this case. I hope the local authority will be able to exert some influence: they don't want good, established nurseries closing due to sustainability issues.

 

By the way, why did he come to talk to you about it? Surely he wasn't asking for your blessing? :o

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By the way, why did he come to talk to you about it? Surely he wasn't asking for your blessing? xD

This got me thinking. I remember my boss telling me that not long after she took over the nursery she had a visitor from a man (I think she vaguely knew him through mutual friends/acquantainces) who was looking to set up a full day care setting somewhere in the vicinity. He came in to look at our group, telling her of his vision and what he wanted to achieve. He began pacing up and down the rooms, looking at space, ratios of staff to children and generaly poking his nose round, much to the consternation of the onlooking staff who were sure the nursery was about to be sold again!

 

Turns out he had come to pick her brains, suss out the competition and ultimately offered her the job as manager!

 

Perhaps that's what this chap was doing! :o

 

Maz

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Hi

I have sort of skimmed through the previous replies as I am just about to go out so apologies if I repeat anything already said!

 

I have been in a similar position in that my setting is run from the owners home and when we wanted to expand she looked at buying a residential property further along in the same road. She had to apply for planning permission for change of use and I guess this chap will have to do the same.

 

That's where you can object if you want to. Our planning application received several complaints from local residents and when this happens the local planning committee hold a meeting to discuss/vote on the application. People for and against the proposal are allowed to speak (well in my local council that's how it works)

 

All the preschool staff trouped along to the planning meeting and the manager spoke for her planning application. Likewise a spokesperson did so objecting on behalf of the neighbours. They objected on the grounds of parking, noise in the garden from children etc etc. However when it came to the committee voting we won and were granted permission.

 

In the end we didn't go ahead but that's another story. If someone is applying for change of use planning permission in your neighbourhood you can object on any grounds you see fit.

 

I think it will depend on the number and type of objections the council receive as to whether the application has to go as far as a planning committe vote.

Hope this helps

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Thank you all for your help and support. I haven't heard from him again. When he originally came to see me he wanted to know if I wanted to go into partnership and run the place, but I think he thought I was the Manager, not the owner. Or, he just didn't understand until I explained to him, that I couldn't oversee both facilities because of the conflict of interest.

 

I am certainly keeping my eye on planning applications in case they put one in. I am also going to talk to Birmingham LEA to see if they have any advice or can speak up about sustanability if he does go ahead.

 

If anything happens, obviously I will post and let you know.

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Guest Rouse1

hiya dont worry there are tow children centres on my doorstep and another opening in a few months. i hvae managed to maintain my customers by word of mouth.....if your a good nursery with a good reputation that will get you the customers every time.

paula :o

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Hi Shelia, when our local primary school wanted to open a nursery on the playgroups doorstep, the thing I kept coming back to was the Governments stance that no new provision can duplicate what is already on offer in the immediate area. If you're in Birmingham, you'll know only too well that this isnt always adhered to (for whatever reason), but if you hear any more about this, I'd email everyone at the council you can find that is connected with planning or EY. I'll pm you with all the people I emailed if I've still got the addresses.

Good luck :o

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  • 1 month later...
Hi Shelia, when our local primary school wanted to open a nursery on the playgroups doorstep, the thing I kept coming back to was the Governments stance that no new provision can duplicate what is already on offer in the immediate area. If you're in Birmingham, you'll know only too well that this isnt always adhered to (for whatever reason), but if you hear any more about this, I'd email everyone at the council you can find that is connected with planning or EY. I'll pm you with all the people I emailed if I've still got the addresses.

Good luck :o

 

 

Rea,

 

did you find this list by any chance. I want to be prepared.

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Sorry sheila, there was nothing in the playgroup files. Not sure why!

Most of the possible links I have are on an old computer no longer switched on but as there have been changes lately I'm not sure they will be relevent anyway.

 

I'll pm you with the names and numbers I've got.

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You might also want to let residents/businesses nearby know what might happen. They wont want extra traffic and noise so will be on your side too. And dont forget your parents.

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