A PRIVATE nursery in Helensburgh has been forced to scrap plans to increase its service offering due to rising costs of an expansion.

Stepping Stones nursery submitted proposals to Argyll and Bute Council in September to convert the first floor of the building in West King Street, which is currently used for residential accommodation, into classrooms to cater for babies and toddlers.

It was hoped this would boost the number of children at the nursery, which has a capacity of up to 45, from 35 children to 37, but new owner Karen MacDonald has had to abandon the move for the time being.

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A statement on the nursery's website said: "It was always our intention to open a baby room and a toddler room upstairs within the nursery and we were excited at the prospect of being able to offer childcare from six months upwards; we were advised on good faith the space upstairs was perfect for it.

"Up until the beginning of last week this was still very much our intention, however, after meetings with environmental health and the Care Inspectorate, and numerous changes to the drawings to try to accommodate the requirements from both departments, we have been unable to design a space that would meet the requirements placed on us whilst still being financially viable.

"It is with great regret therefore that we have had to cancel our plans for a baby room within the nursery.

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"We understand this is not the information you were hoping for, and we deeply regret the impact this may have on your future childcare plans."

The development had been met with objections from a number of nearby residents, citing potential traffic and parking issues and raising concerns over the removal of a hedge, to be replaced by a fence, within the town centre conservation area.

Mrs MacDonald told the Advertiser she had no further comment to make.

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