Philippa nurtures expansion at Lancaster nursery

A popular pre-school centre based at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus is set to expand with a move to a new-build facility.

The six-figure investment will allow the centre to almost double provision for two to four-year-olds to 80 places.

The nursery is owned by Philippa Perks who founded it 25 years ago after graduating from the university, then known as St Martin’s College, with a degree in geography and educational studies.

In that time the pre-school centre has looked after hundreds of children from the local area and those of staff and students, including Phillipa’s own daughter, Lauren, who is now 15.

On completion of the build, Philippa’s business will be granted a long-term lease of the property from the University of Cumbria. Philippa was advised on the lease by the property and construction team at North West commercial law firm Harrison Drury solicitors.

Philippa, who is originally from Liverpool and now lives in Garstang, said: “Our current home is in a dated modular building in an area of the campus earmarked for redevelopment, so this move is essential to allow us to continue to develop the nursery. The new facility will be in prime campus location in a contemporary timber-frame building. It will be an inspiring place for our staff and children, as well as being a more sustainable and energy-efficient building.”

Simon England, a director at Harrison Drury solicitors, said: “Increased government funding is fuelling greater demand for nursery places and it has been Philippa's intention to expand the pre-school centre for some time, so I’m really happy for Philippa and her team. This investment secures excellent facilities for the future and offers significant benefits to the university, its staff and to local families.”

The project has received some funding support from Lancashire County Council, while Philippa is funding the rest of the build herself with support from Lloyds Bank.

David Eaves, Health Care Banking Consultant, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Philippa operates a fantastic facility at The University of Cumbria that is hugely popular with both parents and children. Expanding the services on offer will not only help the business to grow, but benefit the local community.”

The new nursery, which will continue to be led by fully qualified staff and Early Years teachers, will be open by mid-October. The facility has been designed by architecture practice Cassidy and Ashton and will be built by Lancashire-based Lawrence Taylor Construction which specialises in timber-frame construction. The design and layout for the building has been approved by the Early Years Team at Lancashire County Council.