A Highland teacher who has grown her dance school from a handful of children to 161 in four years will find out today whether her plans for a studio in an Aviemore industrial estate can go ahead.
Highland Council planners have recommended for refusal professional dancer Heather Cooney’s plans to create two adjoining studios in by merging three units in Dalfaber industrial estate.
They say the studios don’t conform with the industrial estate’s economic and employment purpose, that it is inappropriate for child access and that half a mile is too far away from the town centre.
Professional dancer Mrs Cooney started Cairngorm School of Dance in 2014, teaching ballet, modern, tap and hip hop.
At present she travels hundreds of miles a week teaching classes of different abilities and ages six days a week in church halls in Boat of Garten, Rothiemurchus, Kingussie and Grantown, as well as at The Hub in Aviemore.
Mrs Cooney said: “I want to expand the community side of the school to include more work with special needs and dementia patients, but the halls aren’t suitable.”
She said she has spent a long time looking for a base for her school having had to rule out Aviemore town centre on grounds of rental cost- up to £90,000 annually- and lack of parking.
She said: “There are footways to the part of the industrial estate where the studio would be for older pupils coming on foot. In practice parents drop off younger children at the door, and often car-share, so the seven spaces allocated there will be plenty.
“The school isn’t about creating employment, but I already need more teachers and someone for admin.
“So far four of my pupils have gone into further dance training, including two boys who had never danced before until the school opened.
“The school gives the children so much in terms of confidence and life skills. It urgently needs a base and a place to grow and Dalfaber estate is the best option I’ve found.”
Planners say the proposals would cause the loss of three starter units, adding: “it cannot be argued that this development is compatible and complementary with the existing business uses.”
Mrs Cooney’s proposal will be considered by the council’s south planning committee today.