WORRIED residents in Johnstone have hit out at Renfrewshire Council over the site chosen for a new £2million nursery.

Plans were originally in place to move the Spateston Pre-Five Centre to a refurbished St Anthony’s Primary School.

However, an investigation identified “abnormal ground conditions” and confirmed the site was at risk of flooding.

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This has now led to another site, south-east of the current nursery, being chosen, with council chiefs hopeful of completing the project by spring 2020.

The Gazette:

The current nursery in Churchill Avenue 

However, the land – at the corner of Hallhill Road and Spateston Road – is a popular green space, with some residents insisting the nursery should be built elsewhere.

The Gazette:

The current nursery site (green) and the approved site (red) to the building's southeast

Joe Reilly, 71, fears the nursery move could pave the way for future housing developments at the site.

He said: “While I don’t have any objection with the nursery being moved, I think this is just the start and the council is going to end up selling the land next to the new nursery for housing.”

Councillor John Hood, who represents Johnstone South and Elderslie, also believes an alternative location should have been chosen.

He said: “I still don’t think it is the right place. There will definitely be some mixed feelings about this in the area.

“While everyone accepts the need to improve the nursery, there are concerns about it being the right place and what might happen next.”

Iain McMillan, secretary of Johnstone Community Council, added: “There are definitely mixed views over this proposal as it would change Spateston forever.

“People are fearful of that.”

The Gazette:

There are fears other green spaces (in red) in Spateston could be used for developments

Proposals to base the new nursery at the corner of Hallhill Road and Spateston Road were rubber-stamped at last week’s meeting of the council’s education and children’s policy board.

It was stated that, if construction was to go ahead on the original site, piling foundations and flood mitigation measures would have cost an extra £700,000, bringing the revised cost to just over £2.5m.

The new site is on higher ground and not within the flood plain, meaning it would not need the same mitigation measures.

Investigations of the new site have also shown the ground to be much more favourable but remediation measures at a cost of £60,000 will be necessary.

Parking for parents and carers of children at the new centre is likely to be made available at a council site next to The Osprey pub.

Planning officers will consider how the existing footpath and car park will connect to the new centre.

The Gazette:

Jacqueline Cameron understands the concerns but backs the move 

Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, who also represents Johnstone South and Elderslie, has backed the location chosen by the local authority.

She said: “Building on the previous site would have cost significantly more, so saving for other services for the community is a bonus.”

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A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson added: “The construction of a new-build Spateston nursery is part of our early learning and childcare expansion plans and our commitment to maintain nursery provision within the area.

“We consulted with local people, who told us they wanted the nursery to stay within the Spateston area. In support of that, we are assessing and surveying various areas of land with a view to submitting a formal planning application in due course.

“None of the sites that are being assessed are within the designated greenbelt.”