A former nursing home which became notorious as a magnet for arsonists and thieves is to re-open next month after being redeveloped as a children’s day nursery.
In addition to resolving the issue of the building’s future, the new business will also create up to 30 new jobs.
The Knoll Nursing Home, located just off Leeds Road on the Thackley side of Greengates crossroads, became derelict after its closure in 2008 and was the subject of repeated complaints from those living in the area.
There was concern over security at the site, with thieves stealing materials from the building, arsonists lighting fires and worries that the site was attracting drug users.
Its owner had applied for planning permission to demolish the building but that did not go ahead and it was sold to entrepreneurs Heather Baker and Jonathan Thornton, who have invested a £350,000 funding package into the site to create the Woodlands Park Day Nursery, which opens next month.
Heather will run the nursery, following the transformation of the site by Jonathan and his team.
The business will have the capacity to take up to 80 children up to the age of five and will also act as a school holiday club for children aged between four and eight.
“The neighbours have been supportive. They recognise the work that has gone on, not only to create a lovely place for children but also that it has been done with thought and consideration for the neighbours.
“I am excited for the people who are opening the nursery, I am sure it will be fantastic,” she said.
The nursery is the first move into childcare for the couple, who have been involved in property development for the past ten years, having sold a sunbed business in 2004.
Nursery manager will be Rachel Finan, who has recently won the Nursery World Awards for Early Years Professional of the Year.
Heather said: “We are very excited about the nursery launch and we have received so many positive comments from the local community for redeveloping the Knoll.
“It is a beautiful building but had really become an eyesore after the nursing home closed, attracting all sorts of anti-social behaviour. We have created a great environment for the children to play and learn and we are extremely passionate about benchmarking our high standards and we aim to become a leading childcare provider.”
HSBC provided financial backing and spokesman Mike Hemingway said: “It is great to see The Knoll being brought back from its derelict state. It really had become a blight in the community and had been targeted by arsonists a couple of times. We worked with the business to understand their requirements and their vision for the business, and have been delighted to support the project.”