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11th September 2019

Council investigates Charlotte Church school

BY: Matt Discombe Local Democracy Reporter

Charlotte Church is facing a council investigation for an alleged breach of planning permission as she looks to open a school at her home – but the singer says she’s done nothing wrong.

Vale of Glamorgan Council has launched an enforcement probe after complaints that an annex of Charlotte’s home in Dinas Powys is allegedly being used as a school without planning permission.

These claims have been denied by Charlotte, who told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) she is operating within the law.

She says internal works have been done to the annex but they have “not changed the character” of the building.

The council is yet to decide whether or not it will take formal action – but could in theory issue notices telling Charlotte to either stop or reverse any unauthorised work.

The LDRS revealed exclusively this week that the musician and activist plans to open a school for 20 local children – which will be based at her home only for the first year.

The non-fee-paying school, for children aged between nine and 12, would be “democratic” and give children a say on how its run – including the long-term location of the school.

Charlotte faces a wait to see if Estyn and Vale of Glamorgan Council will approve the plans for the school.

Charlotte says a part-time home school tutoring group is currently using the annex for less than 12.5 hours per week, which she says is approved by Estyn and Welsh Government.

She said: “As far as I’m concerned I’m not aware of any breach of planning.

“If the council want to look at what we’re doing we will welcome them with open arms. If there are any problems we will be completely compliant.

“This is a charity venture. It’s about providing a wonderful education for children who may have been struggling in mainstream and providing an alternative that doesn’t cost anything. We’re trying to do something which is beneficial to the community.”

Dinas Powys Community Council and councillor Andrew Robertson have objected to the plans, raising fears over traffic and noise.

Charlotte has said just one vehicle will be needed to take children to and from the school.

She said: “We have sent out a letter to our neighbours in the hope they can come to us if they have any problems.”

A Vale of Glamorgan Council spokesman said: “The council is currently considering an application for a change of use relating to a building at this address. We have also launched an enforcement investigation after receiving a number of complaints suggesting the use has started prior to planning permission.

“We will decide whether any formal action is necessary in due course.”

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