03:30PM, Thursday 16 July 2020
More than 1,350 people have come out in support of planning permission for an outdoor pre-school alongside Bray Lake in a petition to the Royal Borough.
Little Muddy Me is a forest school for children aged between two and five. It is an off-shoot of Little Me, an ‘outstanding’ rated pre-school in Bray.
At the forest school, children are encouraged to climb trees, swing in the hammock, play in the ‘mud kitchen’ and hunt for bugs.
Little Muddy Me opened in January. However, on its open day, the Royal Borough told the pre-school that it did not have the appropriate planning permission.
Little Muddy Me made a retrospective planning application instead, but this was rejected on May 1.
This is the second time that planning permission for the pre-school has been denied. Little Muddy Me originally sought permission to operate in Gays Lane, Holyport. This was refused on the grounds that the development would harm the openness of the greenbelt. The council cited the dismissed appeal for Gays Lane as reason not to grant permission for the proposed site at Bray Lake.
“Our current site has none of the issues that applied to the site at Gays Lane,” said Victoria Egarr, owner of Little Muddy Me.
“There are no highway issues, it has an existing car park, it was already fenced – we simply replaced [the fence] to make it safer for the children.
“We have made it very clear that we have no desire to build any permanent structures on the site.”
Ms Egarr added: “We absolutely don't want to cut down any trees, as the planning officer is suggesting.
“We are a forest school – we need trees and we have plans to plant more.
“As qualified forest school practitioners, we understand more than anyone the benefits of the green belt, nature and the environment.
“We now need the council’s planning officers to see that the benefits of Muddy Me far outweigh any negative impacts on the green belt.”
The Royal Borough had not responded for a request for comment at the time of going to press.
The petition can be found at https://tinyurl.com/ yc6wxouo
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