The Busby community is outraged after East Renfrewshire Council’s planning committee approved plans to build a state-of-the-art nursery within Busby Primary School grounds.
More than 60 Busby parents and residents turned up to protest ahead of the committee meeting last Wednesday (January 16).
However, only 27 were allowed access to the Council Chambers, on a ticket-only basis.
At the meeting, Councillor Stewart Miller, Conservative Group leader, told the other members of the committee that they “would have to reject the planning application as it goes against our own policies”.
But afterwards, Cllr Miller said: “None of the Administration councillors challenged anything I said but they still chose to vote in favour of developing the playing fields.
“I was amazed when Ward 4 councillor, Annette Ireland, proposed the motion to build the nursery, which was going against the wishes of the local community in Busby.
“The overwhelming verdict from parents was that they did not want the school playing fields sacrificed for a nursery facility and we are dismayed that the proposal has gained planning consent.
“Jim Swift, Jim McLean and I all spoke our minds at the committee meeting and we are hugely frustrated that a different outcome has not been achieved.”
Cllr Miller’s objections to the planning application were supported by Cllr Jim McLean and Cllr Jim Swift who said: “We understand the council needs to meet education objectives for nursery provision.
“Education, however, is not just about academic results, it’s about open space.
“As a council, we have a part-cavalier attitude to protecting open greenspace.
“If we take away greenspace and open space for Busby Primary school children, we are removing the capacity to play.”
Read more: New Busby Nursery is a ‘positive step
Resident Kirsty Duncan said: “I do support the need for building more nurseries and the Scottish Government should be congratulated on this initiative.
“However nurseries should be built on brownfield sites first before ERC consider developing on council-owned playing fields, parks or greenspace. “The piece of land known as the ‘gap site’ on the main road in Busby which has lain barren for years had been suggested as an alternative solution. Why not build on that?”
And pupils are also upset at the decision.
Ailish, a P5 pupil at Busby Primary, said: “In the summer we are allowed to play on the playing fields and our janitor brings out a speaker and plays lots of music. The nursery are always on the playing fields.
“It’s the only green space we have left. Lots of people will miss it and we hardly have any space to play in the playground.
“The Multi-Use Games Arena (MUGA) that was built is far to small to fit my whole class in. Lots of people will be very upset that the playing fields might be going. For lots of people it’s the most imporant place in the school. Our school needs green to learn!”
A spokesman for ‘Save Busby Primary Playing Fields’ group said: “We are deeply angered by this decision.
“If this nursery development goes ahead, what is the alternative greenspace and outdoor space for the school?
“The mini-MUGA built in August is too small for team sports such as football.
“When this question was posed at the last Parent Council meeting in November 2018, Busby Primary’s headteacher Gillian McRobb, who took up her post in August 2018, said the school did not have an alternative.
“Busby Primary School children will be behind when they arrive at high school and join in with children from other schools who have had such opportunities.
“We have the support of the Busby and wider East Ren communities behind us.”
The spokesman added: “We will be doing everything we can to keep fighting to save the playing fields at Busby Primary for current school children and for generations to come.”