Playgroup moves closer to relocation

A 50-YEAR-OLD playgroup facing closure because it was unable to afford a rent increase, has moved a step closer to safety.

The Queens Road Playgroup says it will have to move out of its premises at Tannery Drift First School because it cannott afford to pay an increase of almost double in its rent.

But the group has now been able to apply for planning permission to build a new playgroup at Icknield Walk First School after meeting teachers there this week.

Manager Judy Porto, who has worked at Queens Road for 21 years, said: “The future of Queens Road is suddenly looking very promising.

“We had a positive meeting with Icknield Walk and they have given us the green light to apply for planning permission to build a mobile classroom there.

“It’s brilliant news for us. The last thing I wanted to see was the playgroup go under, but this has really delighted me.”

If planning permission is granted by North Herts District Council (NHDC), Mrs Porto will face a race against time to raise the �50,000 needed to build the new classroom.

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She has appointed a team of parents to help co-ordinate some activities to raise the cash.

“I’m hopeful that we can raise the money in time for the new term in September, but there’s no guarantee,” she said. “There will be lots of fundraising activities coming up which hopefully people can get behind and help us raise the money that we need.”

The Crow has received a flood of letters in support of Queens Road since the news broke about its possible closure, but not all are pleased with the news.

Residents of Icknield Walk and Poplar Drive say they are concerned about the amount of traffic that could build up in the area.

One parent of Poplar Drive said: “I don’t like the idea of even more children coming down this road as it will cause a further build-up in traffic and could potentially be dangerous.

“With the playgroup running two classes per day and sharing their start and finish times with the school, it’s going to be chaos.

“It’s already really busy out here so things are only going to get worse.”

Mrs Porto said that she carried out a traffic survey with parents of Queens Road children and will be submitting the findings to NHDC’s planners.

Icknield Walk head teacher Jane Sherwood and Mrs Porto visited neighbours in the area last week to listen to their thoughts on the possible relocation.

Queens Road has several fund raising events coming up, including a meal, raffle and auction of promises at Palazzo in Kneesworth Street on Tuesday, June 7.

The cost is �20 a head, �10 of which will go to the playgroup. Call Palazzo on 01763 226225 to book a table.