VILLAGERS have expressed their dismay at plans to convert a historic church hall into a day nursery.

West Bergholt Methodist Church was put on the market in 2019 because of a dwindling congregation.

A bid has now been launched to convert the detached hall at the former church in Chapel Lane, West Bergholt.

If successful, the new nursery would provide childcare five days a week for as many as 35 youngsters up to the age of five.

Gazette: Site - the church hallSite - the church hall

Parents and staff members would be able to use 14 parking spaces which will be maintained at the site, which previously offered crèche facilities.

'A nursery will impact my quiet home'

Several residents have written to Colchester Council to object to the proposals, with concerns being raised about road safety and noise impacting the nursery’s neighbours.

One resident said: “Although this hall was previously used as a crèche for the church… the use would now be five days a week all day and therefore impact on my existing quiet location.

“I would expect that the windows etc would be adequately insulated to prevent excessive noise to neighbours.”

Gazette: Inside - West Bergholt Methodist Church's detached hallInside - West Bergholt Methodist Church's detached hall

A lengthy objection from another resident raised several issues, despite the householder acknowledging “the importance of providing childcare facilities within our community”.

“Chapel Lane is a small lane without pavements but frequently used by pedestrians,” they wrote. “Lots of children walk to school along the lane and their journeys will coincide with peak times for the nursery.”

They added they feel the parking facilities are “inadequate” and will result in “chaos during drop off and pick up times”.

A third neighbour claimed the opening of a nursery could “prejudicially impact immediate neighbours”.

Gazette: Historic - West Bergholt Methodist ChurchHistoric - West Bergholt Methodist Church

They asked: “Family and friends visiting gravestones currently use the car park that is in place. Where will they park if a nursery is opened on this site?”

Much of the congregation from the former church joined their neighbours at the nearby Mile End Methodist Church.

Former treasurer Andrew Wilks previously said it had been a difficult decision to call time on the church, adding he was “sad and reluctant to see it go”.

Colchester Council will have the final say on the plans.