CIVIC chiefs have rubberstamped plans for a children’s nursery at a former Hampshire pub.

It will cater for up to 70 children for 52 weeks a year, and Hampshire nursery firm Yellow Dot have started building work at an estimated cost of £300,000.

They bought the Ship Inn pub, in Wales Street, Winchester, earlier this year and applied for its change of use on April 29.

Planning officers granted permission last month, and director of Yellow Dot, Jane Dyke, says they hope to open in January next year.

She said: “We have got the builders in gutting the place with a view to refurbishing it.

“We are very excited about it because it’s a town centre location with good parking facilities.

“A lot of our parents come from Winchester already so it will be great for lots of different families.”

Formerly owned by Marston’s, the pub closed on May 31, with Yellow Dot given the keys before planning permission had been granted.

“Obviously it was a risk,” said Ms Dyke, “but in our strategy we had done a risk management, and we have experience in getting planning permission, so it was a calculated risk.

“There was no reason why we shouldn’t get the permission. We are excited about what we can do with the building.

“It’s a good blank canvas for us to create our Yellow Dot Nursery.”

However, some residents have raised concerns about the potential traffic increase.

Robert Charles, 30, a car salesman, of Wales Street, said: “This is a dangerous road to have a nursery on, the pavement is so narrow.

“I have been hit here three times. It will take somebody to be killed for them to take notice.”

However Winchester City Council has dismissed these claims. A spokesman said: “This is an acceptable change of use for the building in planning terms.

“Highways experts commented on the application and said the traffic generated by the proposal was unlikely to be greater than for the previous use as a public house or other uses that might be permitted.”

As reported in May, the former landlords Mark and Jo Vincent were forced to leave the pub after only eight months and move back to the Isle of Wight.