Bid to to turn church into nursery splits opinion in Dunchurch

Objections from residents and Dunchurch Parish Council have ensured a controversial application to turn a former church into a nursery school on a site close to a busy road junction will be discussed at next week’s Rugby Borough Council planning committee.
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But the parish council and the residents who take a closer look at the report to that meeting – which recommends committee members approve the application – will note that none of their three borough councillors responded when notified about it.

The current three Dunsmore borough councillors are not members of the planning committee that will make the decision, so were able to add their voice to the opposition – and it is often borough councillors who get an application discussed at committee rather than being decided by officers.

But in this instance it was the parish council and worried residents whose opposition saw it added to the agenda.

The former Dunchurch Methodist Church in Cawston Lane. Google Street ViewThe former Dunchurch Methodist Church in Cawston Lane. Google Street View
The former Dunchurch Methodist Church in Cawston Lane. Google Street View

The application – ref R23/0174 on the borough council’s planning portal – was first reported by the Advertiser in March this year and comes from Rugby Montessori.

Montessori used to be based at Bilton Grange but was replaced on the site by the school’s own provision, Little Grange Nursery, that opened in August last year.

Rugby Montessori has continued to run at its other location in Vicarage Road, Rugby, and with pressure on for places sees the Cawston Lane building as a way to bring new nursery availability to the village.

But much of the opposition is about the impact on traffic and road safety generally at a site close to the busy junction of Cawston Lane and the main Rugby Road through the village - while not being far from the former’s other busy junction with Adkinson Avenue.

The plans have been amended since March but the reality of the site not having enough space for staff to park – and the impact of children being dropped off and picked up – remains a concern.

The officers’ report notes the county council as highways authority has no objection and while recognising the lack of parking, argues the impact will not be severe, based on statistics the objectors will undoubtedly dispute.

It says: ‘WCC Local Highway Authority have reviewed the TRICS database (Trip Rate Information Computer System), an industry standard tool for quantifying trip generation values of new developments the UK and Ireland.

‘Based on this data the Local Highway Authority state that the proposed nursery could generate around 13 movements in the am and pm peaks.

‘With six parking spaces provided this could result in around seven vehicles parking on-street to pickup/drop-off children’.

The report also makes a comparison with parking demand from the building’s use as a church – even though the peak church use was on a Sunday morning and the nursery will operate Monday to Friday.

In terms of the need for the places, the county council separately expressed said: ‘Rugby borough has a shortage of early years provision and my colleagues within the education service have confirmed that they would welcome the additional places this application would bring.

‘Please treat this as support for the application from the county council early years team’.

The planning meeting takes place on Wednesday, August 16, at 5.30pm at the town hall. Members can attend or watch a livestream.