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Wait is finally over for Warminster pre-school pupils
Pre-school pupils at Noah’s Ark in Warminster have finally got a new classroom, after a seven-year funding wrangle with the local authority.
The pre-school’s new addition, in the grounds of Princecroft School, has improved access for disabled people, more space, an all-weather outdoor play area and a private room for sensitive conversations.
The charity has had to wait since 2005 for project funding, due to confusion in Wiltshire Council’s planning department. It finally secured the money in July, following intervention by the Local Government Ombudsman last year.
The classroom was opened by town councillor Pip Ridout, who was praised by pre-school chairman Phil Gillingham for her support during the dispute.
He said: “These are wonderful, modern, child-friendly and environmentally-friendly facilities. “The old classroom was becoming increasingly dilapidated and badly needed replacing. It had reached the end of its life expectancy.
“The all-weather outdoor play surface is a great improvement on the former grass and woodchip-covered area. Children and staff will benefit greatly.
“This site is second-to-none in the area, for catering for the needs of young families. The Happy Feet Children’s Centre offers services to parents, babies and toddlers. Noah’s Ark offers its pre-school childcare and we are all in the grounds of Princecroft Primary School, which is under new management.
“These facilities all work together and are well set to make a difference to the local community.”
The pre-school was founded in 1991 and has 20 pupils, but the new building will allow it to expand.
Mr Gillingham said that, in 2005, it was due to get £101,000 from Persimmon Homes, which was building nearby. A similar sum was earmarked for the primary.
However, Wiltshire Council’s planning department only paid the money to Princecroft, since it is rare for pre-schools to get such Section 106 agreement funds.
The majority of the money was granted this year, after the pre-school followed the local authority complaints process and referred the matter to the Ombudsman.