A landlord says council officers were “nit-picking” after a plan to turn an empty pub into a nursery school collapsed.

Businessman Nathan Plumley owns the historic former Green Lion in Rainham High Street.

The Hedgehogs nursery had plans to move into the former Green Lion pub in Rainham
The Hedgehogs nursery had plans to move into the former Green Lion pub in Rainham

He was speaking this week after the two women behind a proposal to open a Hedgehogs pre-school pulled out because of “too much red tape”.

Mr Plumley said: “I really don’t understand it. Everybody has done everything asked of them and more.

“At the last minute obstacles are being thrown at them. They would have been the ideal tenants, 100%.

“And for my tenants living above the premises, again 100%.”

The landmark hostelry, which has been closed for more than two years, is now back on the market to rent out.

Eve Poynter (left) and Laura Hollands
Eve Poynter (left) and Laura Hollands

Mr Plumley, who works for Totteridge Developments, said: “It’s been a pub and proved that doesn’t work, it’s been tested.

“But change of use has proved too difficult, the council doesn’t seem to want to see something new.

“So we are going to have to go back to somebody who wants to take it over as a pub or restaurant.

“My tenants living above would much prefer it being used as a nursery which is open on weekdays, closing at 5pm and not a pub which may be open for breakfasts in the morning, closing at night and open at weekends.”

Business partners Laura Hollands and Eve Poynter had been looking forward to welcoming little ones to the pre-school.

Medway Council's offices at Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham
Medway Council’s offices at Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham

But after months of wrangling with council planners and conservationists, they have “called it a day” and instead are opening a new school in Wayfield.

After forking out £5,000 on fees for specialists and architects, they have had to let down 50 families who will now have to make alternative arrangements.

Initially, they say they were told their application submitted in October was favourable and they started enrolling children, stencilling their logo outside and started to decorate inside the Grade-II listed building.

But earlier this year, they were confronted with more requirements to be met and their opening date was delayed.

The latest hurdle, which came in April from the highways department, was the final straw.

The Green Lion public house in September 1974
The Green Lion public house in September 1974

The women removed all parking on site for the nursery following concerns, but were then told this could “compound the issue as parents and carers are more likely to park indiscriminately” nearby.

There was also issues about the design of an acoustic sound barrier not being the exact size required.

The women, who founded Hedgehogs Childcare in 2016, are now about to open a business in a former church in Street End Road for 40 children.

And it includes an after-school for children in Luton, one of the most deprived area’s of Medway.

Former primary school teacher Laura said: “It’s sad but Rainham’s loss in Wayfield’s gain.”

Garden to be used for allotments at new Wayfield nursery
Garden to be used for allotments at new Wayfield nursery

The director of teaching and learning said: “In the end we had no choice but to call it a day as they made new demands again just before the review date to delay even further.”

In a letter to the council’s planning department, the partners wrote: “Further to the most recent instructions from the conservation officer regarding the height of the external fence, we feel that after almost a year of trying to satisfy all of the many demands placed upon us, we have reached the end of the road and have no other option than to withdraw our application.

“We feel that it is a great shame that the building will now continue to fall into disrepair as a result of it lying empty and unloved.”

The Wayfield centre at the former Sacred Heart Church opens on September 6.

Children will be encouraged to engaged in the Hedgehogs’ ethos to make good use of playing outdoors.

The back garden will be used for allotments and the front a a tree exploration area.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

By admin