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New Nursery gets the go ahead for Insch

By David Porter

Nursery age children in Insch are set for a brand new facility in the town.

Councillors at this week's meeting of the Garioch Area Committee were asked to approve the full planning application.

Architectural images show the new Insch Nursery which received approval by councillors this week.
Architectural images show the new Insch Nursery which received approval by councillors this week.

Aberdeenshire Council submitted plans last year for an entirely new build unit which would be located on council owned land opposite the Bennachie Leisure Centre at Basse Croft.

With the land immediately be available, it offered the scope for a new build which would meet the highest standards of quality and facility, as part of Aberdeenshire Council implementation of the expansion in ELC entitlement.

This provision will have the capacity to accommodate the existing levels of children attending the Nursery at Insch but also to provide indoor and outdoor facilities of better condition and suitability than the children can currently access.

At present in Insch, nursery places are currently split across a two session day, term-time only, offering 600 hours of ELC a year to the children who attend.

Aberdeenshire Council propose the option to change the session delivery model of ELC to deliver the increase in entitlement by extended opening times, offering more flexibility for parents.

The model is also based on the provision of the service across a maximum of 50 weeks a year compared to following the current term time only model.

At present Insch School Nursery would not be able to offer a full 1140 hours entitlement to all children who currently attend when the new provision entitlement comes into effect.

In the supporting documents, Aberdeenshire Council states that a new 80 place capacity provision would potentially offer around a total of 112 children an 1140 place, offering children in Insch the opportunity to access a full uptake of hours.

Planning officer Bruce Strachan, speaking to councillors said: "This application is a departure from the local development plan as it stands as the site was intended for a new primary school, however given the pressing need and the size of the overall site, we feel this is an appropriate move.

"The designs submitted have met with approval and are to be welcomed both for the finish, layout and landscaping of the site.

"There is a proven need for this facility and its creation will also help relieve pressure on the existing school.

"The new nursery will have a positive impact on the local community and especially for youngsters in and around Insch."

Councillors Leslie Berry and Martin Ford raised queries on the overall parking provision and the carbon neutrality of the new facility, both of which were answered by officers to their satisfaction before the application received unanimous support.

A timescale for construction is still to be clarified but work is expected to commence as soon as possible to meet the enhanced provision introduction time period.

Plans which were submitted with the application include extensive models of the site and its external and internal layouts including a purpose designed outdoor environment to enhance and promote outdoor learning.

Additional facilities will also be created within the new build provision, including a multi-sensory space and Parent space and will also be used for the purpose of workforce development to delivered training leading to formal qualifications in childcare.

As council officers note: “This centre will allow us to pilot various operating models and initiatives which could be rolled out across Aberdeenshire in the future.”

"The spaces currently occupied by the Nursery within the School building will revert back to school use as Classroom space as the school is currently operating at 95 per cent capacity with huge pressure on general purpose spaces in the school being used as classroom spaces.

"With the creation of a new nursery this will allow these spaces to come back into School use."

Insch Primary has a current role of 439 pupils and the current nursery can hold up to 60 pupils in a purpose-built temporary unit attached to the end of the main building, however the proposed new nursery will provide 80 nursery spaces.

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