Childminder plans approved despite threat from family feud
A family feud almost derailed an experienced childminder’s bid to expand her business and even led her to fear being forced to sack staff to stay afloat.
Elaine Burt, who runs Primary Steps Child Care from her home in Seaton Sluice, claimed she could ‘lose everything’ if she was unable to convince development bosses to back her plans.
Her plans had the backing of dozens of families, as well as a nearby school, but decision makers were officially advised to reject the application after concerns about traffic and road safety in the area.
“For the past 14 years, I’ve been providing childcare to local children and children with special educational needs from my property with no issues,” she told the Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley Local Area Council.
“[That was] until a recent family dispute has seen our neighbours and my husband’s own mother and father become hell bent on ruining our lives and livelihood.
“None of [the objectors] live close enough to be affected by the proposal, all of the objections have been made in bad faith and they need to be put into context with all of the letters of support from residents on the street and elsewhere in the village.”
Burt currently cares for up to 22 children at the business, based at her home in Southward, after she was given permission by Ofsted to conduct ‘childcare in a domestic setting’ and take on extra staff to handle the increased numbers, applying for planning permission retrospectively.
The council’s planning department received 51 letters supporting the scheme, including two petitions with a combined total of 221 signatures.
Just four objections were sent in, although the local authority’s highways team also raised concerns about the amount of parking available for staff and parents.
Backing the plans, Coun Barry Flux said: “When I actually looked at the report, there’s only four objections; the parish council, the democratically elected body for the area, isn’t sufficiently concerned to object and there aren’t a huge number of objections from all and sundry on the street.
“Ofsted has said it’s happy with the number of children, so what am I to say to that?”
Following debate, the committee opted against granting permanent planning permission, instead opting for a temporary permit lasting two years.