A COUPLE who charge children to use their pool have been ordered to close the pool following complaints about screaming and mermaid parties.
Andrew and Richelle Brooks began teaching in their backyard. In 2021 we came home and have had teachers teaching children to swim ever since.
But their neighbors say they have had to endure a “cacophony of noise” since then – including “singing, cheering and shouting”.
They claim this has prevented them from enjoying their own gardens – and even say it is disrupting their learning and sleep.
The council has now told the Brooks they will have to close Little Otters Swim School as they should never have run lessons from there in the first place.
The parents opened the swimming school shortly after moving into their £745,000 Colden Common home in August 2020.
Richelle, Andrew and their three sons hosted mermaid parties but said they were forced to stop after neighbors complained.
The family argue that they found it “unfathomable” that the neighbors had complained as they had not been affected “at all”.
Winchester City Council’s planning committee has been told that swimming lessons will take place Monday to Wednesday from 9.30am to 11.30am and 3.30pm to 7pm.
Classes also took place on Thursdays – with four children each and a class duration of 30 minutes each.
The couple were forced to submit a subsequent application to change the use of their property from a private residence to a business – but this was unanimously rejected.
There were 23 comments supporting the application – but they appeared to be from swimming course participants and not neighbors.
Ten of these submitters didn’t even live in the village.
Richelle argued that they were doing a service to the community.
MailOnline She reported saying at the meeting, “No other local swimming school offers what we do.”
“We make a valuable contribution to the community, promote active, healthy children, create jobs, pay taxes, support charities and make a positive contribution to society.”
“While we regret that our nearest neighbors are being disturbed by the use of the pool, we understand that they have encouraged other residents to raise objections, even though the use has no significant impact on them.
“I am sure they are also disturbed by our private use with our own three young sons, which happens often, especially in the summer months when our neighbors use their garden most often.”
Richelle said it’s likely the home’s previous owners didn’t use the pool much, so any noise coming from the pool would be a contrast.
“CACOPHONY OF NOISE”
She continued: “This disorder is a purely subjective opinion.”
“For people to say their lives are being ruined by the noise in their own homes is unimaginable to me because we live in the house where these classes are taking place and are not disturbed at all – it’s just a bit unreasonable.”
Dr. Adelaide Morris lives just meters from the pool and said her families’ lives had been “significantly disrupted by a cacophony of noise”.
She told the meeting: “I live to the right of the swimming pool. We neighbors on both sides of the school are suffering from stress due to the noise.”
“Singing, cheers, screams from teachers, carers and children – even worse when the roof is retracted.”
“Our normal life cannot continue until classes end.”
Another neighbor, James Newman-Carter, said the noise distracted him as he tried to study for his A-levels – even with the windows closed.
He said: “Although I didn’t have to get up early on some days, I was never able to take advantage of this due to my schedule, as I was routinely woken up by the singing of nursery rhymes, raised voices shouting instructions or encouragement, and children crying.”
Chair of the Colden Common Parish Council, Councilor Maggie Hill, told the meeting: “Constant loud screaming, shouting, singing – stuff like that.” [they] Because of the noise, they were unable to enjoy the amenities of their home or garden or relax.
“In hot weather the noise is even greater when the pool cover is retracted.
“Neighbors on both sides cannot read in their yards, study in their homes, or sleep during the night shift.”
She added that the swim school is often rented for private events on weekends – and that more lessons are offered there.
The council added: “This is not an essential business for the area, there are six others within a five mile radius.”
Local councilor Michael Read rejected the application, saying: “Children must be given the opportunity to swim.”
“However, in this particular case we are in a residential area, it is very close to a neighboring property and the noise level could be so high that it becomes a real nuisance.”
The Sun has contacted Brooks for further comment.