All-Year Tennis 'Dome' Given Thumbs Down By Council

Dukes Meadows Club told it cannot have permanent structure

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Tim Henman coaches local school children at Dukes Meadows

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A bid by local tennis and golf club at Dukes Meadows to retain its 'Dome' to provide year-round indoor tennis facilities for the next ten years has been turned down.

Councillors at last nights Planning Committee meeting rejected the application, saying the applicant had not come up with a proper and more sustainable idea for a permanent dome- and it should now revert to its six month seasonal arrangement.

In 2013, planning permission was granted for the erection of the dome all year round for a period of two years to allow the applicant to work up a more sustainable solution.

Prior to that the demountable air cushioned dome-which covers five of the tennis courts- had been allowed seasonal erection for six months of the year from October to April. The permission expires in April 2015 and the Dome is due to revert to the original permission.

A Council report presented to the meeting said:

"The dome is considered to be inappropriate development in the MOL ( Metropolitan Open Land) and would be harmful to its openness and character.

"No additional special circumstances have been demonstrated and the special circumstances previously demonstrated by the applicant for the seasonal erection of the dome do not outweigh the long-term environmental impacts and the adverse impact this environmentally unsustainable structure would have on the MOL if retained in situ for a further ten years"

This was the second time in two years that the Council had opposed the idea of a permanent dome on the site.

The structure measures 10.5m high, is 36.5m wide and 83.5m long and is constructed from an impermeable woven PVC fabric. A total of 20 floodlights would be mounted on 4m high columns to light the dome internally, with hours of use to be 07:00am to 10:00pm, seven days a week.

Two years ago, local celebrities including Tim Henman and Clare Balding had called on LBH planning officers to have a change of heart over a decision to refuse planning permission for the Dome. The Dukes Meadows Tennis and Golf Centre had claimed it might have to close if it did not get permission.

The Centre claims it coaches almost 1,000 schoolchildren weekly, who might not otherwise gain access to tennis courts because they cannot afford to pay private club fees.

The centre is the brainchild of French Connection fashion brand owner Stephen Marks.

October 31, 2014