Tennis courts harm countryside character and appearance

An inspector upheld enforcement action against tennis courts in use as a tennis club at a former riding school in the countryside outside a Milton Keynes village and refused deemed consent.

The appeal site included a large area of open land laid to grass, various buildings, a former manège and dwellings. The tennis courts comprised three bases, two laid out with full size tennis courts and the third configured with four permanent mini tennis courts. Each court was lit by eight LED lights mounted on a surrounding 2.7 metre high open mesh fence.

The inspector considered the regimented layout, materials and enclosure of the tennis courts on rising ground resulted in a significant visual intrusion in the open countryside, the utilitarian fencing creating a cube form in stark contrast to the open grazing land around the site. The appellant argued appropriate landscaping and lighting conditions could mitigate the impacts of the development. However, the inspector accepted that while the development could be hidden behind tall vegetation, this would not assimilate it within the landscape or make it appropriate in its rural context. In contrast to the diffuse external lights attached to buildings and former manège on the appeal site, the inspector judged the concentrated mass of lights around the tennis courts detracted from the dark countryside, a harm which could not be addressed through a condition limiting hours of operation. On the basis of harm to the character and appearance of the area, she rejected the tennis courts.

Inspector: Hilda Higenbottam; Written representations

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