Huge sports dome by nature reserve would be 'monstrous blob', resident fears
A school wants to build a huge sports dome, dubbed a "monstrous blob" by one resident, on the edge of a nature reserve.
The proposed dome would be the size of three netball courts next to Warren Farm which is comprised of grass and woods owned by conservation charity the Woodland Trust.
An example of a dome by the same company from a document submitted with the plans to the council
Resident Neill Denny, who lives in nearby Holmwood Road, compared the scale of the 206ft (63m)-long dome to a four-storey office block, warehouse, aircraft hanger and medium-sized cruise ship.
He said the proposed dome, which would be continuously inflated by an air generator and sited on a ridge, would completely dominate the whole valley occupied by the Woodland Trust site.
"It is a monstrous, ugly blob that will wreck a natural landscape," Mr Denny said in an objection submitted the council.
"This scheme represents an uncalled for urbanisation of tranquil green space, and the imposition of artificial noise and light late into the night, and also, and significantly, out of term time. "This is nothing short of a new leisure centre by the back door."
The proposed site consists of a school sports field as well as a recreational area which has recently come into the school’s ownership.
To the east is Ewell Road, to the south is a railway line and trees and to the north is a David Lloyd sports centre, a private members’ club that already has its own sports dome.
The design statement said to the west there is a boundary hedge with mature trees including a ‘veteran oak’ near Nonsuch Park.
It proposes to minimise the visual impact of the dome by creating an earth berm covered in wild flowers around it, colouring the bottom half of the dome green and the top half white to mimic a tree line, and some limited landscaping.
It said: "The site will still retain its open character and there will be little visual change to the overall character of the site."
Under the plans an existing derelict sports pavilion and adjoining garage will be also demolished. At present the school has traditional sports and some access to the David Lloyd centre.
Peter Gale, headteacher of Nonsuch High School for Girls, said: "We appreciate that local residents will quite rightly want to raise questions.
"In the documentation submitted to Epsom and Ewell Borough Council we have explained how we will minimise light pollution and actually enhance the local natural environment.
"The aim of the project is to significantly enhance sporting facilities for the students and the wider community.
"We hope that as part of the Olympics legacy we will be able to encourage greater participation levels in sport and thus make a contribution to having a fitter and healthier local community.
"We are also working with local sports clubs who hope to use and benefit from the additional facilities.
Peter Gale, headteacher at Nonsuch High School for Girls
"We are aware that many local clubs would like to offer greater opportunities to local community but do not have the facilities to do so.
"We are confident that these gains can be achieved without ruining the local environment."
Councillor Chris Frost, who represents Nonsuch ward on Epsom Council, said he had been told there would be patches of natural colours on the dome to camouflage it.
Mr Frost said: "While we like to see improvements to facilities for young people to enjoy sport, it must not be at the expense of residents. We have to balance what we want to see for one group with possible harm for another."
In one of several supportive comments submitted to the council, Mia Forbes, of Seaforth Avenue, New Malden, said: "The sports dome would provide more opportunities for students to pursue their hobbies, partake in PE lessons and may encourage some to take up new sports.
"Aesthetically it would not be an unsightly obstruction and could be lowered to reduce its height."
A spokeswoman at Woodland Trust said: "As I understand it, the planning application does reference trees that are part of Warren Farm so we will request that we are consulted about this before any work goes ahead.
"As the development does not directly affect ancient woodland, we will not be objecting to it in principle."
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