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Former Cambridge nursery could become flats with early years community space

New plans have been submitted for the future of an historic Cambridge building after a nursery’s previous plans to “save” it were refused.

SNAP! 4 Kids ran a nursery in Church Hall in Chapel Street for over 20 years, but has now had to close after its previous plans were rejected.

Illustrative image of what the redeveloped Church Hall in Chapel Street, Cambridge, could look like. Image: SNAP! 4 Kids Nursery
Illustrative image of what the redeveloped Church Hall in Chapel Street, Cambridge, could look like. Image: SNAP! 4 Kids Nursery

The nursery had submitted plans to Cambridge City Council to convert and extend the hall to include 13 flats alongside an improved space for the nursery.

At a planning committee meeting last year, Jane Robertson, the owner, said the nursery was in a “critical position” and said the plans were needed in order to save it and repair the building.

However, the application was refused after councillors raised concerns about the size of the proposed extension, and the plans to include an outdoor space for the nursery on the roof without a lift to access it.

In the nursery’s new plans, the building is proposed to be refurbished and extended to include 13 one and two-bedroom flats, alongside a community space on the ground floor.

Each of the flats is proposed to have its own terrace or balcony.

In planning documents submitted with the application it said: “The height and size of the proposal is respectful of the existing building and enhances its presence in the conservation area.

“The pitch roof is in-keeping with the original building and the surroundings. The scheme is respectful of the surrounding heritage asset and enhances the quality of the existing building.”

The planning documents say the nursery had “regrettably” had to close following the refusal of the previous application as the building was “unable to safely support an appropriate learning environment for young children”.

The application adds that the closure of the nursery had led them to reconsider the community space, explaining that it is no longer proposed to reopen the nursery.

It says reopening the nursery “would now be impossible to implement with the sizeable costs associated with repairing and converting the existing building.”

The ground floor hall area is proposed to still be used as an early years space, hosting a childminder agency, offering a childminder collaboration and meeting space.

The application says: “It will also be home to a programme of early years training and open to all practitioners in the area alongside weekly family classes in baby yoga, baby signing, baby music, and parent craft.”

The new proposals would provide a “sustainable means” of bringing back into use the “deteriorating building”, the applicant says, adding: “The multi-use scheme will create high quality residential units and a brand new, dedicated early years space for Cambridge to better meet the needs of local early years practitioners, children and their families.”

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