A CHANGE of use application which would have allowed property owners to hold swimming lessons in their back garden has been refused.

Winchester City Council’s planning committee backed their officers’ recommendation and refused the scheme in Church Lane, Colden Common.

The proposal by Richelle and Andy Brooks for permission to use a pool on their property as a swimming school for children. The couple had already set up the Little Otters Swim School in 2021, not realising that permission would be required for the business.

Speaking to the committee, Mrs Brooks said: “There is no other swimming school in the area which offers what we do. We are a unique swim school, which means that a lot of children with special needs who do not fit in anywhere else have a safe, warm, clean, easy to access, place to learn the valuable life-saving skills of how to swim.

Hampshire Chronicle: The swimming pool in the Brooks' gardenThe swimming pool in the Brooks' garden (Image: Winchester City Council)READ MORE: More than 40 objections to major development plans for former army base

“We are providing a valuable service to the community, we’re promoting active, healthy kids, we are creating jobs, paying taxes, supporting charities and we are positively contributing to society.”

Mrs Brooks said that the school only offers lessons on weekdays during term times, from 9.30am to 11.30am and from 3.30pm to 7pm on Mondays to Wednesdays, with only afternoon sessions taking place on Thursdays and morning sessions on Fridays.

Speaking in opposition, Church Lane resident Dr Adelaide Morris pointed to an increase in traffic on Church Lane due to parents bringing their children to and from the school, calling the high number of cars on the road “dangerous”. She also said the high level of noise from the pupils during the lessons had a “huge impact on the health and wellbeing of neighbours.”

Cllr Sue Cook, ward councillor for Colden Common and Twyford, also spoke against the swimming school. She said: “I am a keen swimmer, so I believe it is important for people to learn to swim.

Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Sue Cook speaking before the committeeCllr Sue Cook speaking before the committee (Image: Chris Atkinson)“The residents were not happy for the school to be here, the constant cars driving back and forth. The school should not be in a residential area, it is in the wrong place.”

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Cllr Michael Read said: “This is an interesting application, it is a retrospective application because the school is already in existence. However, there are some concerns. Looking at the parking elements, I noticed that the application site is very close to a T-junction, so parking on the highway would present problems.

“I think children must be given the opportunity to learn to swim and I am not going to go against that. However, in this particular case, we are in a residential area, it is very close to a neighbouring property, and the noise levels could become such that it becomes a real nuisance to the neighbours. On that, I do agree with the officers recommendation and would go along with it.”

The committee refused the application unanimously.