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Swimming school faces closure if plan for new 20-metre 'spa quality' pool on village farmland is refused

The Finlays run their current school at Rothesay B&B which is due to be demolished
The Finlays run their current school at Rothesay B&B which is due to be demolished

A COUPLE who have run a successful swimming school in Highcliffe for seven years fear it will have to close if planners do not give the go-ahead for a new pool in Hinton.

Dee and Michael Finlay teach around 550 children at the Seabrook Seals Swim School which is currently based at the Rothesay B&B in Lymington Road.

But the B&B, which is owned by the Finlays, is due to be demolished next January to make way for a development of flats.

The couple have been looking for a new HQ for the swim school for the past three years to no avail.

Now they have teamed up with Meyrick Estates on proposals for a new pool hall on farmland next to The Retreat in Lyndhurst Road, Hinton.

Jeremy Hinton, general development manager for the estate, said: “We want to build a high-quality swimming pool similar to the one at Chewton Glen and other spas in the area but on a smaller scale.

“It would be a great community asset, used by the Seabrook school to teach local children how to swim as well as being used by guests at the Retreat.

“We would, in time, also offer its use to holiday lets in the area.”

The planned pool would be housed in an agricultural-style barn glazed on one side. Mr Hinton said that if permission is granted it could be ready for use by Easter next year.

Dee and Michael Finlay
Dee and Michael Finlay

Mr Finlay said it would be “absolutely perfect” for Seabrook, saying: “At present we have a nine-metre pool and this is a 20-metre one.

“We would be able to double our teaching team and take on more students. It is in a great location and to have a purpose-built new facility would be fantastic.

“We have just not been able to find anything else suitable.”

He said Meyrick Estates had approached him and his wife about the new pool. It would be jointly run by both parties.

Mr Finlay said: “We feel really positive about the Retreat plan. It has been great for us as we were really starting to despair that we would not find anywhere.”

There have been more than 50 letters of support for the application, with a decision expected from New Forest District Council in August.

Mr Finlay feared that if it is refused then Seabrook, which he has run with his wife for more than seven years, would have to close.

He said: “This is our best hope. If it is not given the go-ahead, we will probably have to close which will lead to our five teachers losing their jobs.

“Not to mention the disappointment that would bring to our students and their parents.”

Mr Finlay said it would be “especially devastating” for his wife Dee, adding: “Her father ran swimming lessons in the NFDC 30-40 years ago and Dee has been involved in running them all her life.

“She’s trained several people to swim the Channel and has done so herself. The swimming school is very dear to both our hearts.”

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