Parents speak out in support of 'vital' Horsham childminding business

Parents have come out in support of a child-minding business operating from a log cabin in the garden of a house near Horsham without planning permission.
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Gemma’s Little Friends offers home-based childcare from the cabin at a property in Park Road, Faygate, and is now seeking retrospective planning approval from Horsham District Council for a change of use of the residential cabin.

In a statement to the council, agents for owner Gemma Friend say that the business has been operating successfully with no objections from neighbours.

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They say that the maximum number children being cared for at one time is just 11, adding: “This business is providing a valuable need to the area with negligible environmental impact and has no affect on the surrounding neighbour’s amenity, visual or otherwise.”

The log cabin in the garden of a property in Faygate, near Horsham, is being used as a childcare baseThe log cabin in the garden of a property in Faygate, near Horsham, is being used as a childcare base
The log cabin in the garden of a property in Faygate, near Horsham, is being used as a childcare base

Business owner Gemma Friend, in a personal statement to the council, said that she had worked all her life in childcare settings. “Over the years I have seen many children who a busy nursery environment just doesn’t suit, so I made the decision to create an environment where children would receive lots of nurturing of their needs and individualised attention to encourage development.

“Unfortunately, during the period of setting up my home-based childcare, Covid 19 was rife and my original plan of running from a playroom within my house was not an option, due to the possibility of the constant disruptions Covid would bring with people in the household needing to isolate etc.

"Instead I made the decision to use the existing cabin as an alternative to my playroom. This meant if someone in the household contracted Covid they would be isolating away from the children and therefore I could still operate and give the families and children the continuity they needed.”

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She said the cabin was an addition to their family home and was still regularly used as a chill out space by her teenage daughters. “As a family we entertain in the cabin on special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas due to the lack of space we have within our house, it is my fitness and work out space in the evenings, as well as dance studio for my youngest daughter.”

She added: “The village is very supportive of my childcare business as I have brought a vital service into the area, with many of the families I serve coming from the village and close surrounding area.”

And a number of parents have expressed their support. One said: “Our son loves his time at Gemma's, and the relationships he has with staff and other children are incredibly valuable,” adding: “Having spoken to a lot of other parents who send their children to childcare settings in West Sussex it is very clear that Gemma's Little Friends provides some of the best childcare in the whole of West Sussex.” Another said: “The cabin is beautiful and my little girl loves going there.”

And the mother of another little girl added: “From her first day, Gemma and the wonderful ladies have provided nothing but high quality, attentive and responsive care. They take the time to get to know the child and family, communicating on a daily basis about learning opportunities, developments and celebrating successes.”