LAST week the Gazette spoke to Whitchurch residents in opposition of plans to relocate the town’s Montessori nursery to an unused plot of land next to the Knowlings.

The proposal was set to go before borough councillors next week but will now be reviewed next month instead.

In the meantime, we have been speaking to parents and residents who support the plans to hear their responses put forward last week.

The chief criticism of the relocation plan was the impact it would have on traffic, with many saying traffic is “bad enough” as it is.

However a number of parents with children at the nursery say they travel there on foot. And Hannah Fletcher, whose son attends the nursery, says the proximity of the proposed site to other schools is another benefit in itself.

Hannah said: “I currently walk to Whitchurch CofE Primary School to drop off my daughter en route to the nursery, which my son James attends.

The close proximity of the two means people do not need to drive.” The application also states that seven of its nine staff live within walking distance that, even during its busiest period, there will never be more than nine vehicles using the site.

Other residents pointed to the differences between the nursery and the alternatives in the area.

While some nurseries offer forest sessions, Whitchurch Montessori nursery is the only Montessori and forest school in Hampshire.

The nursery also offers greater flexibility than others, says mother-of-two Tracey Wood. “If that nursery does shut I don’t actually know what I’m going to do,” she said.

Tracey says the nursery’s hours offered are “invaluable” to herself, a property administrator for a housing developer, and her husband, Kerryn, who works as a firefighter.

And while other nurseries require children “to be there for 8am until 6pm,” the Montessori nursery allows children to attend as and when they need. “When I first started I had [my daughter] Christa in two mornings a week, 9-12. And when I phoned and said can I keep her in for lunch they said sure.” “The nursery is run almost like a home,” she added. “When I rung Julia [Lymbery, director of the nursery] she knew exactly where I was coming from. “It’s like a family there.”

Ex-borough councillor Keith Watts, who retired from his role last year, also weighed in on the issue, warning of the potential alternatives to the nursery plan.

“The people who oppose this think the field is going to stay as it is,” he said. “Well that’s not going to happen.

“The neighbours around are shooting themselves in the foot if they defeat it.”

“The borough council officers have already listed that site as a potential housing estate. The land was bought for housing in the 1950s and that was its future destiny unless that changed.”

Keith personally knows many of those against the proposal and says this is the “best organised opposition” to a planning application he has ever seen in 50 years.

“Some are my friends, some are the people I most admire, but they are mistaken on this.”

He also adds that many of the arguments against the proposal are “not material planning considerations anyway”.

The ex-councillor said: “The only material planning consideration against it is that the road access is not good because of the neighbours it will effect. But they are only talking about 40 children.

“And it’s not a school where everybody turns up at half past eight. So the traffic affecting the Knowlings is not a dreadfully bad problem.”