Published: 00:01, 13 July 2018
| Updated: 13:20, 13 July 2018
A swimming pool providing a “vital service” to children, many of whom have disabilities, is at risk of closure after Dartford council ruled it was having a detrimental impact on the neighbourhood it serves.
Denise Calver, who has been teaching children to swim for 23- years, moved DC Swim School into a covered pool in her back garden in New Barn Road, Longfield, nine years ago after the St John’s School pool she used to work at shut down.
The 51- year-old says at the time Dartford council’s planning department said she did not need to apply for permission, while she took measures to curb noise.
Four years ago after she was made redundant from her other job she increased her private lessons, going from teaching three nights a week to five evenings and one morning.
Earlier this year, the council told Mrs Calver she needed planning permission after a complaint about noise and parking.
In total, five residents objected to her subsequent change of use application, while more than 50 wrote letters of support saying the pool provided a “vital” local service.
Kent County Council Highways raised no objection to the proposal and no environmental health advise was given.
A planning inspector recommended approving the application subject to a number of conditions.
Mrs Calver agreed to all the conditions, which included costly building work to improve her driveway, with the exception of the 30-minute breaks as she said these weren’t practical as many parents have children in different classes.
But despite this, the panel of 12 councillors unanimously rejected the application citing parking concerns and excessive levels of activity.
Mrs alver is now facing a court battle to save her business and is hoping to raise £8,000 to cover legal costs. She said: “If my appeal fails I’ll be out of a job and a home. I teach children from across the local area including many with disabilities.”