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Nursery plans move into Kentish Town baths building

Neighbours oppose application by oversubscribed Little Garden Nurseries

01 May, 2018 — By Richard Osley

The Victorian baths in Prince of Wales Road [Photo: Julian Walker]

A MOVE to turn a flat inside the refurbished Prince of Wales Baths complex into a nursery has split opinion among parents who say they cannot find decent childcare and neighbours who are concerned about noise and traffic.

Planners are considering a bid by the top-rated Little Garden Nurseries, in Ryland Road, Kentish Town, to open a new facility for toddlers at the Victorian swimming pool building. New flats were created at the site, officially known as Kentish Town Sports Centre, to help fund the baths’ refurbishment 10 years ago.

While Camden Council has planning guidelines to stop housing being used for other purposes to protect the number homes in the borough, the nursery’s planning agents say an exception could be made due to the pressing need for childcare places in NW5.

The application said that there were six nurseries within a one-mile radius but “despite this network of facilities, the demand cannot be met and additional nursery spaces need to be provided”.

The nursery says it has a waiting list of around 60 and parents who are waiting for a spot are among supporters who have written to the Town Hall calling for planning permission to be given.

Some residents who have moved into the landmark building – saved from a sell-off by a New Journal-backed campaign in 2006 – are objecting to the change, however. In letters to the planning department, objectors warn that the nursery cannot safely operate in one of the flats and there is no clear plan to deal with fire evacuations and commercial waste removal.

Others say parents dropping their children off will cause traffic jams in Prince of Wales Road, an important through route. Heritage rules have stopped some residents from installing double glazing to reduce noise disturbances, the protest letters add.

“The renovated building was not designed to support any commercial use, and to place such a demand on it could lead to a major incident,” said one of the objections. The nursery scored the top-rung “outstanding” rating on its last Ofsted inspection.

One of its managers, Sofia Palma Carlos, said in her own letter to officials that staff and parents would be local, preventing the need for cars. She added: “We built an outstanding nursery providing excellent care for local children and we became so popular within the community we have now a waiting list higher than the total of places we can offer.”

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