A NURSERY has applied to build a new home on land at a leisure centre in a bid to secure its future.

Watership Downs, in Downs Road, Maldon, has been looking after children in the town for 40 years.

But due to their lease agreement ending next March they need to find a new home.

Nursery manager Sharon Kennedy has applied to Maldon District Council to place a wooden cabin on land at the Blackwater Leisure Centre in Park Drive.

The land is jointly owned by the council and centre operator Places for People.

If approved the centre would provide a pre-school for 30 children, a crèche with 11 places for use by leisure centre customers and before and after school care for 15 children.

The cabin would also be available to rent by community groups in the evenings and for events and parties at weekends between 9am and 9pm.

A planning statement said: “Closure of the existing setting would mean loss of a well-established, well respected childcare facility within a rapidly expanding town that currently has all childcare provisions operating at, or close to capacity.

“The closure of the existing provision would leave 44 plus families without trusted childcare. The new proposal will increase the capacity of childcare spaces.”

The nursery employs 16 members of staff and the plans would see a further ten jobs created.

Last year Places for People closed the crèche at Blackwater Leisure Centre saying the facility was “underused”.

If the plans are given the green light this scheme would be revived.

Mrs Kennedy said: "Watership Downs Nursery School is delighted to announce plans to relocate nursery to the site of the Blackwater Leisure centre.

"After 40 successful years in Downs Road we feel it is time to move forward.

"The nursery will be expanding to incorporate before and after school provision, holiday provision and to re-instate a creche facility for users of the leisure centre."

The council’s economic development team recommended the plans are approved but environmental health officer John Fairweather said he had concerns about noise and asked for a noise assessment to be completed.

Maldon District Council will have the final say.