Former town pub gets new lease of life


TODDLERS have replaced tipplers at a former pub in Bognor Regis.

The First Steps nursery has been launched in the one-time White Horse.

The childcare facility on Chichester Road was officially opened by Chichester College’s former vice principal, Sarah Stannard.

A spokesman said it confirms the college’s status as the number one operator of child care nurseries in West Sussex.

The college runs four sites which have an annual turnover of £2m.

Last week’s ceremony capped the work which the college has carried out to create one of Bognor’s biggest nurseries.

First Steps has 98 children on its books and 88 on any one day being looked after by 14 members of staff.

Manager Natalie Smith said: “We have 40 babies and toddlers aged up to three and 48 in the pre-school aged three-plus.

“We can offer a lot more space now than we could in our old premises.”

The nursery was previously with the Tree House family and children’s centre on the Laburnum Grove school site and had 48 day places.

“We had a long waiting list there,” said Natalie. “Our new building is fantastic. We knew it would be. It’s an absolutely stunning premises and provision for the children.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback we’ve had about it. We worked with the parents to make sure it was a positive move for the children.”

First Steps opened at the Tree House centre in April, 2009, and moved to its current premises last month.

Shelagh Legrave, Chichester College’s principal and chief executive, said: “We saw this move as an opportunity because there was a demand in the area to enable us to expand our provision.

“The children’s centre wanted to expand as well. So, we saw the opportunity to take advantage of this fantastic venue.”

She added the college’s expertise in running nurseries stemmed from on-site provision which was started to cater for the children of staff and students.

“We became very good at running it and we felt we could offer other parents 
that quality provision,” she said.

“It also provides us with a training opportunity.

“A lot of our apprentices are also members of staff.”