A government agency has upheld an enforcement notice demanding the removal of an “overbearing” sports dome from a school.

The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed an appeal by Holmer Green Senior School to retain a so-called “air dome” above its tennis courts, upholding Bucks Council’s refusal last year for retrospective planning permission.

The school, on Parish Piece, in Holmer Green, sought to overturn the council’s decision about the controversial structure, arguing the pandemic had revealed an “even greater need for facilities to support young people’s physical and mental health.”

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It had also claimed it would provide additional indoor space for exams, breaks and lunchtimes, PE classes and social distancing.

But the council refused retrospective planning of what one councillor called a “monstrosity”, claiming the dome prevented natural light from reaching Holmer Green Infant School to an “unacceptable level”, while casting ‘glaring sunlight’ into neighbouring properties.

Bucks Free Press:

The 'air dome'

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Council officers determined the structure’s benefits did not outweigh its harms, resulting in the appeal.

The Planning Inspectorate recently dismissed that appeal, meaning its removal notice still stands.

“The appeal is dismissed and the enforcement notice is upheld,” wrote the Planning Inspectorate.

“I find the large, tall, white air dome – which is more akin to a huge marquee or tent – is an alien and incongruous form of development at odds with the prevailing character and appearance of the area.

“In my view the internal illumination further exacerbates the incongruity of the air dome.”

It said it “creates an unneighbourly, dominant and overbearing form of development that results in an unsatisfactory outlook to users of the infant school and occupiers of 21 and 22 Glebe Close and 12 Stevens Close.”

It also said it was “not satisfied” the air dome “does not give rise to an undue brightness and glare that unacceptably harms the amenity” of neighbours.

On the point of ‘additional indoor space’, it said: “No substantive evidence has been presented to show a shortage of space at the school, or why erecting the air dome was the only or most appropriate solution.”

Adding: “I give this matter limited weight.”

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