PLANNING chiefs have rejected proposals to increase the number of children allowed at a nursery in Birchwood.

An application to vary conditions for Heathfield House Day Nursery, on Delenty Drive, was turned down by the development management committee at the Town Hall earlier this month.

It sought to amend a condition over the car park to increase the number of spaces from 10 to 14.

The site also wanted to increase the number of children permitted to be at the nursery to 56 children at any one time.

The condition currently limits it to no more than 44 youngsters.

However, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden, who is a borough councillor for Birchwood, urged the committee to reject the plans.

He highlighted the planning history associated to the site and told members it could be argued that it is ‘increasing development by stealth’.

The politician also said residents have ‘put up with enough’ already.

He added: “What we have here is an application which seeks to use existing space with no additional provision, no extension, to try and increase the number of children there.

“That clearly has an impact on residential amenity.”

But the decision has been met with anger by Gary Kirkwood, owner of the nursery.

He said an appeal will be lodged against the decision and labelled the comments over ‘increasing development by stealth’ as ‘completely spurious’.

Mr Kirkwood also responded to concerns over noise from children, which were highlighted during the meeting.

“We are just asking for 12 more spaces,” he said.

“We are only trying to meet the demand in Birchwood.

“Most people in a residential area would actually enjoy the sound of children playing, I feel like any time we apply for something it is like we are trying to open a late-night kebab shop.

“We are only doing it out of demand.

“People want to send their children to family-run nurseries, which ours is.

“We very much, from our perspective, have been trying to build our nursery to serve the people of Birchwood, who live and work in Birchwood.

“All we are trying to do is provide more places.”