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16 September 2019, 14:49 | Updated: 16 September 2019, 14:55
Welsh singer Charlotte Church is facing allegations she is operating a school within her home without legal permission.
Last week, Charlotte Church and her husband Jonathan Powell announced plans to open a school, The Awen Project, in their Dinas Powys home.
The Welsh singer lodged plans with Vale of Glamorgan Council to open the school, in which children help to set the curriculum.
The school, at which Church will be the music teacher, is non fee-paying and will welcome 20 children aged between nine and 12.
However, the singer’s neighbours have objected saying the school is already open.
Church, who shot to fame as a teenage classical star, said her home is currently only being used for part-time tutoring – which has been approved by the Welsh government.
She told the Local Democracy Reporter Service: “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.”
According to the singer, The Awen Project aims to develop a new model of school that is “sustainable, adaptable and personalised” and prioritises the “well-being and needs of the individual child and their community”.
She says the school will be democratic, creative and sustainable, and will allow children to have ownership over their learning.
She tweeted: “The school that I’m going to set up is a democratic school which will use every possible opportunity to show the children how to use their voice within a democracy.
“I have every faith that democracy will be served in the instance of our application.”
Around 20 pupils will attend in the first year, in an annexe and studio in Church’s house. A more permanent site will be sought for the following year.
Andrew Robertson, councillor for Dinas Powys in Vale of Glamorgan, wrote: “As this proposal is against the wishes of all the neighbours of the Spinneys and is to be applied to a building which has changed use already without planning consent I strongly object to this application.”
Dinas Powys Community Council has also objected to the plans, saying the school would damage the character of the area.
Cllr Eddie Williams, Vale of Glamorgan Council Cabinet Member for legal, regulatory and planning services 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.”
Church says she has received ‘thousands’ of messages backing the school.
“Mostly it’s people seeing it’s such a positive thing,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.