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All we want is to play fair!

TWO MUMS who won the hearts of the TV viewers with their plans to build a play centre for children with special needs are fighting to keep their dreams alive.

TWO MUMS who won the hearts of the TV viewers with their plans to build a play centre for children with special needs are fighting to keep their dreams alive.

Joanne Griffiths, 34, and Jane Mitchell, 37, won £50,000 of lottery money after they appeared on television and viewers voted to support their scheme for a non-profit soft, sensory play area in Macclesfield.

The pair, both of whom have children with Down's Syndrome, had scoured Macclesfield for the perfect spot, which would feature special soft play zones, and thought they had found it in an industrial unit on Hurdsfield Road.

However, when they applied for permission to convert the rented warehouse building to a play area, the council recommended refusal, saying there wasn't enough parking.

Now they've vowed to fight the decision at a Town Hall planning meeting tonight (Wednesday).

Mum of four Joanne said: "We're gutted but we're going to fight our case. I understand that it's a busy road but there's a bus stop outside and it's only five minutes from the town centre.

"Also, lots of people will car share. It's unlikely that every child will be brought in a separate car.

"If the councillors do refuse it we'll find it difficult to appeal because we want to spend all our money on the play area.

"Whether we have to find somewhere new or appeal, it would be an uphill struggle."

Mum-of-three Jane said: "When we first filed the application for the money we had no building in mind at all. We did look at a basement on Sunderland Street but we were advised not to take it for fire safety reasons.

"We thought the site of Hurdsfield Road was perfect and we didn't think there'd be any problems."

Joanne added: "The site has planning permission for 15 parking spaces and a one-way system leading from the car park and the man who is leasing us the building has said we can have five extra spaces to the side of the building that are already there."

In a report drawn up by Macclesfield Borough Council's planning department, the Highways Authority say that if an estimated 35 children use the centre each day, at least another 15 or 20 spaces will be needed.

The report states that the centre has access to an additional shared car park with 12 spaces in it, but this would still not be enough, and says: "It is recommended for refusal on the grounds that the business is likely to lead to an increase in on-street parking to the detriment of highway safety and other road users."

Joanne said: "We're not aware of any shared car park but we feel we'd have plenty of parking with the spaces we've got.

"Most cars will have more than one child in. For example, I have four children and Jane has three, so that would mean seven children in the centre and only two cars.

"The only staff would be me and Jane and we'd park elsewhere. Twenty spaces are plenty."

Martin Webb is licensee of The Woodman, which is next door to the unit. A side entrance to the pub opens onto what would be the new car park and he takes deliveries at the back of the building, which could become a covered one-way road leading out of the car park.

He said: "I'm not concerned about the refurbishment of the building but the cars would come right up to my side door which would make it difficult to gain access.

"I also won't be able to take deliveries at the back if the one way system goes ahead. We don't own the land but I would have thought we'd have a right of way because it's a service area."

 

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