Green light to turn Chells Pavilion into nursery

Chells Pavilion in Stevenage

Stevenage Borough Council said Chells Pavilion had been underused for a number of years - Credit: Louise McEvoy

Permission has been granted to turn a council-owned community hall in Stevenage into a children's nursery.

Noah's Ark Nursery Ltd will take over Chells Pavilion in Gresley Way on a long lease after Stevenage Borough Council gave it the green light for change of use.

The report by the council's planning officer recommending permission for change of use be granted says "the building is currently vacant and this is evidence that there is no longer a need for the facility".

However, last year the council said it wanted to let the property in Chells District Park, forcing groups who used the pavilion to find new homes.

Cheeky Cherubs Baby and Toddler Group, which had an 18-year history, said it had to permanently close after failing to find suitable alternative premises. The group had begun in St Hugh and St John's Church in Stevenage, before outgrowing the venue and moving to Chells Pavilion.

Last year, the council said "the property has been underused for a number of years" and it wanted to use its "portfolio of properties to its full potential".

The applicant already runs a day nursery in Stevenage, but this nursery "needs to relocate due to a planned redevelopment," the planning officer's report explains.

The council's environmental health department had raised concerns about the potential noise disturbance to people living in homes nearby, but the planning officer said: "Given the location of the existing children’s play area close to these properties and the new children’s play area under construction, these residential properties will already be exposed to some level of noise from children playing."

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He concluded that "the change of use would not detrimentally harm the amenities of neighbouring properties" if certain conditions were applied to limit noise transmission,  including installing solid boundary fencing and limiting hours of operation to 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.

Other noise management measures suggested include staggered break times, creating activity zones that enable quiet play, and having a designated ball-playing area away from people's homes.