Extension of Rhyl children’s centre gains approval despite cabinet member’s objection
An objection from a cabinet member, to an extension to a children’s centre in a deprived ward, caused a point of order at Denbighshire council’s planning committee.
Plans to extend nursery provision at the Oak Tree Centre, on Ffordd Las, Rhyl, sparked the call after Cllr Tony Thomas (Rhyl East) had referred the scheme to the committee.
He said he did so because of concerns there would be “over-intensification” of the site, which provides early intervention and support services for children, young people and families.
He claimed a “Childcare sufficiency audit” was out of date and should be completed by someone independent.
The proposal was to extend the nursery to allow a further 98 children to be registered.
In addition to the Little Acorns nursery it houses youth services, the Flying Start programme, midwife drop in clinics, parent and toddler groups and a speech and language therapy drop in clinic.
Cllr Thomas, lead member for housing and communities at the council, said: “I just want to question the childcare sufficiency audit done by the manager of the centre.
“That was done in 2017 so I can’t call this an independent report. I would like to see an actual independent report.
“That nursery is subsidised by £15 per child…”
At this point Cllr Mark Young (Denbigh Lower) called a point of order on the “details of what’s coming out”.
An officer ruled discussing the financial details of the centre was not a valid reason for refusal of the application and members should “stick to the usual things”, although a planning condition about management could be included.
Cllr Thomas accepted the point and said: “If this thing is granted then I would still like to see a report on the childcare sufficiency statement because I know things have changed during the Covid crisis.
“As this is a Denbighshire application, if I hadn’t called it in it would have gone through.
“It should be called in not put through by officers.”
Cllr Thomas was told if councillors had concerns about the delegation of applications they should send them in so officers could “have a look at the future scheme of delegation” for council plans.
In response to Cllr Thomas, Cllr Barry Mellor (Rhyl East), chair of governors at Christ the Word Catholic School, said: “We have a part of the Oak Tree Centre and it’s already bulging at the seams.
“We had an inspection of the nursery, part of the school that came out very well.
“We must remember this is in one of the most deprived wards in Wales and every child deserves education from the start.”
Newly opened Christ the Word has nursery spaces affiliated to the Oak Tree Centre and the school takes children from three years old to leaving age.
Clle Mellor added: “It says there is a waiting list of 98 children and I know, as chair of Christ the Word, there’s a need.
“They are a fabulous organisation and they give children and parents a great service.”
Cllr Pete Prendergast (Rhyl South West) agreed there was an “urgent need to expand the centre”.
He added: “It’s not just a nursery, it’s attached to the local school. We’ve only received one objection and it wasn’t actually a valid planning objection.”
The expansion will provide an additional 98 places per day which be split 66 English medium places (33 in the morning and 33 in the afternoon) and 32 Welsh medium places (16 in the morning and 16 in the afternoon).
The proposal was granted with just Cllr Thomas abstaining.
A change of use to the former Wynnstay Stores in Ruthin to become a builder’s yard was approved unanimously.
Another proposal, to allow a single glamping pod to be sited at Brynllithrig Bach Cottage, Rhuallt, was also passed.
Plans to amend conditions for a wind farm east of Llyn Brenig, Nant Glyn, were pulled from the meeting at the last moment.
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email email@example.com