Winchmore Hill Residents Association is a non-political group run by residents, who seek to protect the quality of life in Winchmore Hill, now and for future generations

Grovelands Forest School Nursery

You may or may not have heard about the proposed forest school nursery in Grovelands. We want share what we know about this for you to make up your own mind as to whether this is an acceptable use for a small corner of Grovelands. The information below was presented at the last general meeting and there were no questions or issues raised at that time about it, although we know previously there have been questions and opposition from some residents in particular in Seaforth and Branscombe Gardens.

If you click on the image below, it is link to the supporting document for the application for the Certificate of Lawfulness submitted to Enfield Council which provides all the necessary information in one document that is also summarised below.

For those that don’t know, a forest school nursery is effectively a daily meeting up of nursery age children to enjoy the woods and recreate almost all their learning activities in a woodland setting.

The information we have comes from a meeting with Mike Campbell the owner of the Forest School Nursery. Like many people the WHRA were surprised to hear about this and had many unanswered questions about how the school would work, what safeguards were in place to protect the woods etc.

We met at the park at the area of the woods between Branscombe and Seaforth Gardens to look at the site and to ask questions about the set up and to find out what controls something like this is subject to.

The idea has been in discussion with Enfield for many months. We feel that Enfield should have made the councillors and the Friend of Grovelands Park aware that this application was going to be made, both of whom have the right to know about this and to be involved in discussions about it at an early stage.

Mike did let residents in Branscombe and Seaforth Gardens know about the plan in April and is meeting with anyone who wants to discuss the plans in more detail.

Early involvement from both Enfield and Mike with local residents, councillors, Friends of Groveland’s Park and WHRA would have been beneficial for everyone concerned and allowed this to develop with a wide consultation and full understanding of what is being proposed.

That said the purpose of this talk is to clear up any misconceptions that we know have been circulated about the Forest School Nursery, these misconceptions and concerns are understandable without clear information being available as to how this will operate.

We hope this explanation offers clarity and insight as to what is being proposed.

Background to Forest School Nurseries and Mike’s involvement

Forest School Nurseries are not new to the borough and there is one in Trent Park and Enfield Town Park which we assume work well and Enfield are familiar with how they work, any potential issues and how to monitor and control their activity.

The Trent Park nursery has operated successfully for six years we understand on the same basis as to the one in Groveland’s, ie without any permanent structures.

Mike is familiar with the set up of the Enfield Town Park and Trent Park operations, his daughter goes to the one in Enfield Town Park, he is passionate about the benefits of allowing young children to learn in an outside environment and wants to offer this opportunity to residents of Winchmore Hill and the local area.

This is not a money making venture as the high level of supervision means that there are very high costs for staffing. It takes a lot of time and there is a lot of paperwork and safeguarding to follow to set this up.

Planning application and the physical set up

They do not need to submit planning application as there is no building or structure required.

They will not be putting a permanent structure in the park. They will be setting up each day with a tent for napping and tent for nappy changing and a potty for those children who are able to use one. No doubt on occasions they will use the public loos at the café if nearby

They have had to apply for a licence to operate in the park just as you would to do a one-off event except that it is continuous for a year. They are subject to all the public liability and risk assessments that are part of event licensing.

They can have their licence revoked at any time during this year or not renewed and this will be monitored if there any breaches of this licence.

Mike has made it clear to us that they are fully aware of this and will make sure that they don’t create a situation that would lead to the licence being revoked, they want it to work for everyone.

They also have to apply for a certificate of lawfulness which is due to be decided in the next couple of weeks.

They are also applying to be Ofsted approved and monitored with all the safeguards and responsibilities that this entails. Ofsted have done their initial approval and Bambos our M.P is supporting the application and liasing with the Government department to help move the application along as there is a long backlog for their second and final onsite inspection.

Operational considerations, noise and impact on environment and locality

The nursery will be operational 9am to 3pm

There will be around 12 children to start with going up to a maximum of 24.

All the requirements of a nursery in terms of education and understanding of the world around them can be met in this setting.

Children will be heavily supervised with a 4 to 1 ratio of carers to children which is much higher than a normal nursery.

Parents will be asked to cycle or walk where possible and not in any way cause disturbance to residents of Branscombe or Seaforth. There is a limited number of car journeys that will happen and the impact on these roads is likely to be minimal. Parents will be asked to leave the nursery if they continue to cause issues in relation to car parking for the local residents.

The site they propose to use sits at the top of the hill near the boundary fence along from the entrance by Seaforth Gardens and Branscombe Gardens. It is a suitable spot with a natural clearing and an area that is much less visited than the main clearings in the wooded area of the park near the playground.

Most people naturally walk along the bottom and join the tarmac path leading up to the gates at Branscombe Garden or Seaforth Gardens and don’t cut across the top.

Boundary markers such as ribbons on a tree trunk (which will be removed each day) will set the boundaries that the children are allowed to go.

They won’t be there the whole time but will go off in groups for various activities around the rest of the park during the day.

In terms of noise, it is felt that younger children are likely to be much less noisy than older children in a school playground setting and other children who are in a nursery playground. This is because there are lot less of them in a much bigger space, they are not cooped up all day and don’t need to let off steam in the way that maybe children in an indoor environment need to.

The aim is to leave the area each day without any visible impact on the area and children’s activities and behaviour will be monitored to make sure that happens.


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