Dukes Meadows Permanent Tennis 'Dome' Refused

Hounslow Council Planning Committee turn down latest attempt

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Tim Henman coaches local school children at Dukes Meadows

Council to Block Tennis Dome Plan

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A plan for a permanent tennis hall to replace an 'air dome' at Dukes Meadows Tennis Centre at Dan Mason Drive, has been turned down by Hounslow Council's Planning Committee.

This is the latest turn in the long-running attempt by the club to have a permanent structure, in place of the temporary dome which benefits from planning permission for the winter months, from October to April.

Three letters of objection had been received from locals and 123 letters of support for the latest application which came after an appeal by the Club against a previous decision. On this occasion, Hounslow planning officials had recommended the application for approval subject to conditions and a S.106 agreement.

But the Planning meeting turned down the proposal as it was not satisfied that the club's plan to allow children from across the borough be allowed to benefit from free tennis coaching , would be enough to mitigate the harm to the area which is zoned as Metropolitan Open Land.

The 'dome' has had a chequered history.The five synthetic surfaced tennis courts, in an area immediately west of the existing pavilion, are covered by the inflatable dome for half the year (October -April ).

The GLA had requested further information regarding the principle of land use on the site. Generally speaking, the construction of new buildings is regarded as inappropriate in a Green Belt zone unless there are exceptional circumstances. Provision of outdoor sport and recreation is regarded as exceptional, as long as it preserves the openness of the land.

As the dome over the courts was to transfer an outdoor recreational facility into an indoor one, it was regarded as "inappropriate development". It would have to demonstrate that there were "very special circumstances" before it could be allowed.

The circumstances which would outweigh the harm to Metropolitan Open Land, incuded that it provided inexpensive access to elite facilities and coaching for all the community, especially local children, and this community benefit would continue to operate at an improved level with the permanent building. A proposed improved design of a structure lower than the existing dome which was of a dark green colour, would be less intrusive, the applicant claimed.

The applicant had argued that a permanent structure would facilitate community use all year round for schools and community groups. The S106 agreement woudl cover the security of the additional hours. It would be a long term boose to the community.

However, while the planning officials considered that on balance, the benefits outweighed the harm to the MOP caused by the structure, councillors did not agree, and voted against the application.

The dome had been operating under a six month seasonal arrangement since last year when the Council turned down an application (00503/B/P31) for a ten year license to run the facility. The decision not to grant a 10 year extension is currently being appealed.

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

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.

November 4, 2017

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