Specialist Swim School Given Green Light To Stay In Leicestershire Home
Planning | Blog
A swimming instructor can continue delivering her specialist one-to-one lessons from her Market Harborough home after winning a planning appeal – with support from planning experts at Marrons.
After purchasing a hydrotherapy pool, Mel Aldridge set up Mel’s Swim Hub from an outbuilding in her garden in 2018 to offer appointment-only swimming lessons to all age groups and abilities in a more private setting.
Harborough District Council granted Mel permission to use the outbuilding to offer one-to-one swimming lessons on a temporary basis until 20 July 2022. However, the local authority’s planning committee denied a subsequent application to enable the business to continue running permanently.
The decision was appealed and a government-appointed planning inspector recently approved the application, allowing Mel’s Swim Hub to continue operating indefinitely.
Mel said: “Most leisure pools focus on group activity and even though one-to-one lessons can be arranged, some people do not feel comfortable in such a large, public environment, making them much less likely to participate.
“As a swimming instructor, I started noticing that some people were missing out because they were intimidated by the setting. I am truly passionate about swimming, and I was keen to ensure everyone had the chance to learn, so I set up Mel’s Swim Hub. I absolutely love what I do – it’s not like a job.
“Having to go through the appeal was such a stressful time. All I kept thinking about was the application getting denied again and so many swimmers being unable to access lessons once more. The only time I didn’t worry was when I was teaching – I’d go into a different world, and it was my saviour.
“I’m so glad I can now continue offering private lessons to the community, taking the time and nurturing them, so they can develop this lifelong skill and grow their confidence.”
Mary Dell, who is in her 50s, has been attending lessons at Mel’s Swim Hub for the past 12 months. She said: “Having been terrified of water since a near-drowning incident as a child, I have never learned to swim. Personally, I would find it very difficult to learn in a large pool with varying depths. Group lessons would not be suitable for me due to my severe fear of water.
“Mel’s facilities are unique for the local area and, due to the lessons being on a one-to-one basis, she can focus entirely on the student without any disruption. It’s less noisy than a leisure centre due to being a smaller, less public environment too. My own self-confidence has improved considerably since starting lessons with Mel. They have also had a positive impact on my mental wellbeing. I am thrilled Mel’s Swim Hub can continue, as it would have been a great loss to the local community.”
Mel has also purchased the former Swim Gym and Broadway Nightclub in Market Harborough’s Riverside Industrial Estate. The site was neglected by its previous owner and has suffered a partial roof collapse as a result. However, she recently received the green light to transform the building into a hydrotherapy centre with two pools, a number of changing facilities, toilets and showers.
She said: “I purchased the building as a plan B in case the appeal didn’t succeed, as I couldn’t imagine my life without being able to offer swimming lessons. We’ve got to demolish and rebuild the whole building as the roof has collapsed. However, it will be an amazing hydrotherapy fitness centre once it’s ready and will allow me to expand the business and help even more people learn how to swim and improve their technique.”
Sachin Parmar, planning director at Marrons, supported Mel’s Swim Hub throughout the appeal. He said: “Mel’s Swim Hub had already established and embedded itself within the local community, so we were absolutely dedicated to ensuring Mel could continue providing such a vital service to the local area.
“As a result of the pandemic, many people have creatively utilised their skills, which has led to a rise in the number of home businesses. Mel used her initiative to set up a bespoke swimming school, providing one-to-one specialised sessions to local people.
“It is disappointing that planning permission was initially denied. Members seemed to treat the work from home business as the creation of a leisure facility, and there was a failure in carrying out a diligent investigation.
“Had this been completed, it would have been clear that the pool was designed and manufactured for fitness, swimming training and recuperative hydrotherapy, as opposed to hosting groups and leisure gatherings.
“For the young people and adults who rely on Mel’s one-to-one teaching methods, we are thrilled the planning appeal was successful that will ensure Mel’s Swim Hub can continue operating.”
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