Plans have been lodged to create an outdoor nursery in a popular Aberdeen park – the first of its kind in the north-east.
Aberdeen City Council has taken inspiration from Scandinavia in drawing up the proposals for the innovative pilot project at the Gate Lodge in the city’s Duthie Park.
Planning documents show a single-storey extension would be built to form a base for the outdoor nursery at the Gate Lodge at the park’s northern entrance.
Bosses say the facilities are “desperately needed” and have the support of the local community, against the background of the Scottish Government’s commitment to double free childcare hours.
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A supporting statement for the application said the park provides an “inspiring environment” for children to engage in outdoor play and the council claims there is an opportunity for the nursery to become “sector-leading”.
It added: “The proposed plans seek to reinvigorate a part of the park that was under-used and breathe new life into the East Gate Lodge and the enclosed garden.
“Welcoming the proposed nursery into Duthie Park will introduce a new generation to the park and potentially more families to enjoy the space.”
Council bosses say outdoor exploration develops a child’s motor skills, which are “essential” for the physical side of writing and practical work.
Other benefits include promoting health and neurological development by helping children make sense of the world and manage emotions.
The local authority also claims the expansion of free childcare hours aims to address the gender imbalance in the workforce, with research suggesting that outdoor learning attracts more men than other educational approaches.
From August, parents of three and four-year-olds will be entitled to 1,140 hours of free nursery care annually, compared with 600 hours now, in new legislation put forward by the Scottish Government.