The decision saw comparisons with Arsenal FC’s smaller, less obtrusive training facility located nearby fail to convince the council.
- Watford FC’s bid to secure planning permission for a permanent training dome is rejected by the Hertsmere Borough Council.
- Comparisons are drawn with Arsenal FC’s smaller, neighbouring training facility, which aligns more closely with local planning rules.
- The council’s decision could impact Watford FC’s national performance and attractiveness to young players due to potential downgrading in the Elite Player Performance Plan.
Watford FC’s plan to erect a permanent 22m high training dome was shot down by the Hertsmere Borough Council, with Arsenal FC often brought up in comparison.
Arsenal smaller 10-metre tall facility raised questions as to why Watford need a larger structure.
The Hertfordshire club had initially received temporary permission for an inflatable dome in 2017, with the condition they deflate it during the summer months.
However, they kept it inflated year-round, leading to a failed application for permanent installation in 2021.
While the dome isn’t highly visible from close views, it stands out from a kilometre away, overshadowing the surrounding vegetation and tree canopy.
Watford FC attempted to liken their dome to Arsenal FC’s and other green belt facilities like Crystal Palace and Bolton Wanderers.
But, planning officials deemed the Watford dome “significantly larger” than others, especially when compared to Arsenal’s, who also proposed planting up to 50,000 trees to mitigate visual harm.
Watford, on the other hand, proposed a mere 32 trees.
Watford FC maintain that the loss of the dome could affect their national performance. Ian Pope, Watford FC’s facilities director, defended the structure, stating it was comparable to other large structures in the area.
However, public sentiments such as David Hyman’s and comments from council members like Councillor Natalie Susman suggest the club has, in her words, “really scored an own goal with this one.”