Posh have been seeking to revamp their training academy at Nene Park Academy in Oundle Road after receiving approval for Category 2 status - the second highest available for academies.
However, the members of Peterborough City Council Planning Committee which met on Tuesday (June 29) had been guided by their planning officers to refuse the giant dome on the basis that it would cause significant disturbance to the local residents.
Earlier, the committee had heard from representatives of the designers of the air dome, and also from club representatives. Mark Woods, agent for Posh said: “The young boys and young girls who will benefit from this facility will realise in time when they come to play for the first team at Posh, just what a bonus this was.
“Currently, the Academy runs a Class F1 (local community and learning) Scheme; but this air dome will raise that to Class 2, a much higher and far more professional level.
“What that means in real terms is that our talented youngsters in Peterborough, instead of going to Norwich, or Leicester, or another Premier League club to learn their profession, will want to stay local. They will want to be with Posh instead of elsewhere.
“We want our talent to stay local, play for Posh and so our fans can really sing ‘He’s one of our own’, or, ‘She’s one of our own’.” Cllr Christian Hogg had some concerns however, he said: “Do you recognise the concerns of the local residents who are going to have to look out of their windows and see this 63m long, 45m wide, 12m high ‘blimp’?” Paul Ingle, designer of the air dome for Posh, said: “Yes, of course we realise that this isn’t the greatest view in the world, but we’ve sighted it so that the nearest residential property is 50m away and at a tangent to the air dome, so nobody will see it full-on.” Peterborough United chief executive Bob Symns, said: “The academy already has evening and night-time classes that run up to 9pm. We envisage that there will be some additional vehicle movements in and out of the Academy up to 9:30pm when people leave for the evening.
“But we believe that this football club could not have done more to appease the residents who feel they will be affected – we’ve included massive sound-screening planting around the entire area, we’ve added additional car parking spaces inside the Academy grounds so that people will not park near residential properties or on the local streets.
“I just don’t know what more we could’ve done, and besides the additional number of vehicle movements will be minimal as this is a community facility – if anything, it will be the community who will be using it at night, rather than the club.”
Members voted by majority to approve the air dome for Posh Academy.
After the meeting, a delighted Kieran Scarff, academy manager, said: “This is outstanding news for the football club and the wider community.
“It gives us a great chance now of increasing our status to Category Two, and the diverse activities that we support and run are going to benefit enormously from this in the future.
“The increased funding that it brings ties in with the ambitions of the Posh – we’re a Championship club now, we need Championship facilities and a Championship way of thinking.
“Looking forward, the more local boys and girls we get playing for Peterborough the better for all concerned.
“The aspirations of the club, and the people who run it, are to go as far as possible – so with facilities like this behind us at Academy level, it’s the Championship now, but we want to go beyond that and who knows where we could end up?”