A mum-of-two has been left heartbroken after a council shut down her small fitness studio over what she insists are “misleading” complaints over traffic.

Gemma Ward, 27, has been forced to stop running GS Fitness inside a garage in Vaughan Close, Rayne, after Braintree Council refused a change of use application.

Mrs Ward, who set up the business in her parents’ house in 2009 before relocating to their garage in 2016, had to submit the application following a complaint made about increased traffic.

But she refutes the claims and says alternative parking arrangements were agreed to minimise traffic, including using nearby pub car parks.

More than 60 letters of support were sent in to Braintree Council over the application, while there were 18 objections.

Councillors eventually ruled against the plans after stating Mrs Ward was a “victim of her own success” and needed to find an alternative base for her studio.

The decision means she cannot continue to run the business in Vaughan Close unless she can overturn the ruling on appeal.

Mrs Ward said: “I was in here for more than 18 months before a complaint was made. But as soon as it was, any traffic or anything in the road was blamed on me.

“The majority of my classes were in the daytime when everyone was out at work so there was no real disruption.

“I would say 75 per cent of my members live in the village and those that don’t have lived or have family or friends that do.

“The traffic actually being bought into the village is next to none due to people walking from their houses to the studio. There’s no noise pollution, there’s no traffic, so the whole case from Braintree Council has been built up on misleading information and speculation on what the business might become.”

Mrs Ward insists her business doesn’t make enough money for her to run the studio from a commercial site.

She says the closure has had an impact on much of the community but has yet to decide whether she will lodge an appeal.

GS Fitness has helped raise thousands of pounds for charities over the years, including for Braintree MS Society, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Epilepsy Action. Mrs Ward says it is an example of her business being more than just a fitness studio to the community.

She added: “I feel I’ve been pushed out. It’s not just me and my life that has been affected – it’s everybody who is part of GS fitness.

“There’s a real personal aspect to what I do and it feels like we are all one big family. There’s a lot of people who are angry about this and agree it’s unfair.”

In its decision notice, Braintree Council said it refused Mrs Ward’s application because her studio was causing “unacceptable levels of harm to surrounding residential amenity”.

The notice also stated it was an unsuitable location for the studio because of the number of people attending.