At a meeting of Wealden District Council’s planning committee last week, Councillors granted permission for Crowborough Tennis and Squash Club to cover two tennis courts using an Air Dome.
Fifteen objections were received by the planning authority, plus one from Crowborough Town Council. Some neighbours said the Air Dome would be unsightly and there were other objections expressing concerns about noise from the equipment to keep the dome inflated, lighting and drainage.
The tennis club has been operating at the location on Church Road for over 50 years – in total there are nine tennis courts and four squash courts. The two tennis courts to be covered are located to the rear of the petrol station on Croft Road.
Planning permission was granted in 2019 to allow the Club to cover these two courts with a building made with vertical metal cladding with a white translucent fabric top; but the current application states for various reasons this previous building was not preceded with.
The Air Dome would be made from PVC covered fabric. It would be curved (see diagram below) and be just over 10m tall at the highest point. The electric pump needed will be contained in a sound-proofed enclosure to the North of the dome. In response from a question from committee members, the Head of Planning clarified that his understanding was the intention was to keep the dome inflated the majority of the time. The committee expressed a preference for the dome to be coloured green, as opposed to white proposed in the application. This is because some Councillors felt coloured green it would blend into its surroundings better. There was also about the sustainability of using gas burners to heat the dome in the winter.
A number of planning conditions were imposed about noise and lighting. These including a check that the proposed fans used to inflate the Air Dome and gas heaters would not produce noise greater than background sound levels. Use of the courts would be restricted to between 8am to 10pm. A comprehensive scheme about how surface water would be dealt with, must be submitted before work can begin.
A proposal to grant approval was approved by a 7-4 majority, with one abstention. Click to see a webcast of the meeting.