A DANCE school has warned it faces losing a significant amount of business after council bosses crushed its dream of moving into a new home.

Complete Dance revealed its concerns for its future after Braintree Council refused the firm's change of use of application which would have seen Unit B1 in Wheaton Road, Witham, swapped from employment to dance studio.

The school's application was thrown out last week despite widespread support within the community and from leading figures, such as town mayor Clare Lager and Braintree Council's own chairman, Angela Kilmartin.

Complete Dance currently has more than 200 students on its books and lessons are taught in classrooms at Maltings and New Rickstones academies in Witham.

But bosses say they need a bigger and permanent place to teach classes due to rising demand.

They have been critical of the council's decision to refuse them planning permission and dispute claims made by councillors in last week's meeting that they had not provided enough evidence to suggest moving to the unit in Wheaton Road was their only option.

The school insists it considered 27 alternatives but using the industrial unit, which has been empty since 2013, was the only one financially possible.

Bosses have also taken exception to the length of time it took the council to rule on their application and believe councillors did not apply certain policies correctly when making their decision.

It is understood the decision is likely to be appealed but the school has warned it is already losing business because it cannot meet high levels of demand.

Manager Julie Greve said: "We are massively disappointed that the committee didn't look at our application in its entirety and didn't take everything into consideration.

"I understand there is a policy to protect employment zones but how can you have a policy which is so single minded that it can't offer an alternative?

"There is nowhere else to go for us. We can't go any further and this is pushing us backwards."

She added: "We have already lost business because we can't offer preschool classes on the days of the week that parents want.

"At the moment we can only offer them on a Saturday because that's the time given to us by the school.

"We've had to turn people away which is no good for us because once you lost that two year-old, you've lost them for good.

"They are our bread and better at that age because the majority will stay with us until they leave for sixth form or University."

A spokesman for Braintree Council said: “The dance school is a great community asset and the young people who benefit from the school are passionate and very talented and because of this it was a very difficult decision. However, the particular site the dance school has chosen is within a designated employment area and needs to be protected. If we were to grant permission for change of use for this unit we will gradually lose more and more land set aside for offices and industrial businesses and this will affect how businesses in our district grow. The applicant can appeal this decision.”

'Decision is appalling'

The Home Secretary has taken a fresh swipe at Braintree Council after it rejected a dance school’s plan to relocate to an industrial estate.

Priti Patel, who is the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Witham in the upcoming General Election, has long supported Complete Dance’s proposals to move to Wheaton Road.

She called on the council to approve the plans back in the summer and she has lashed out at the authority again following its latest ruling.

She said: “I am appalled by this decision, which impacts on an outstanding local business and harms the opportunities of young people to dance and stay fit and healthy.

“When there are other similar businesses operating on industrial estates elsewhere in the district and the country, it is outrageous that this application has been turned down.

“The site has been empty for years and it defies common sense that the council would reject this great opportunity to put it into use and secure investment in the town.”

Ms Patel added: “I will carry on supporting Complete Dance.”

The other Parliamentary candidates standing in the Witham constituency in the general election are James Abbott (Green), Martin Edobor (Lab) and Sam North (Lib Dem).