CHANGES to part of a children's nursery in Stockton Heath have been given planning permission despite safety concerns.

Little Acorns Group had applied for retrospective permission following amendments to the front of Stepping Stones Day Nursery, on London Road.

It was bidding for approval to change a section of the property from off-street parking to an outdoor children's learning and teaching space.

Other proposals included the relocation of off-street parking from the front to the rear of the premises, leading to a reduction in the overall number of off-street spaces.

The proposals were approved by the council on June 5.

However, the use of the garden at the site will be restricted to three hours per day, from Monday to Friday, despite initial plans to increase it from three to four.

Residents outlined their concerns to the application, with one fearing there was 'an accident waiting to happen' and labelling changes as 'not fit for purpose'.

In a planning statement, the council said the highways department would 'ideally wish to see additional on-site parking, rather than the loss of parking'.

It added: "But in this instance the loss of up to four parking spaces is outweighed by the safety benefits and there is no potential to provide alternative off-street parking.

"While we have concerns regarding the potential for future increases in patronage, this cannot be addressed through this application and there are therefore no objections on highway related grounds.

"The hours restriction recognises that some impacts on amenity will occur but then limits the total duration in a given day when they will occur.

"In considering the other application for the rear area, a compromise situation has been achieved via hours restrictions and noise management of the activities in the area along with an acoustic fence.

"The noise management plan is easier to implement as it necessitates a review of current activities and to identify and mitigate against those that are clearly likely to impact on amenity.

"Taking a pragmatic approach, the loss of a small number of spaces, in an area where highway parking is available for all comers, is far outweighed by the potential safety benefits of removing the 'existing' parking."