Watford FC has been refused permission to keep an inflatable dome up at its training ground all year round.

Hertsmere Borough Council has decided the 22m structure at the London Colney site is “harmful to the open character” of the green belt land.

In October last year, the Premier League club’s application for the dome was approved but under the condition it could only be inflated between October 1 and April 1, over the next five years.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Watford FC train at the UCL Sports Ground in Bell Lane, near Shenley and London Colney, and next door to Arsenal's training ground

Earlier this year, the club submitted a new application, with a proposal to keep the dome up all year round.

However, the Hornets have been knocked back by the planning officer in its revised application, meaning the dome, which remained up while the application was live, legally now has to come down until October.

The officer says there are special circumstances which allow the dome to be inflated on green belt land over the winter months such as allowing football training by a Premiership club and its youth academy, and use by certain community groups, to continue in the “darkness and the inclement weather of the winter”.

But these special circumstances do not apply in the summer months, the report states.

Nine objections to the application were received. Neighbours have described the dome as an “eyesore”.

Shenley Parish Council and London Colney Parish Council both objected – the dome can be seen from as far away as London Colney High Street.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Arsenal FC, who train next door to Watford, objected to the dome describing it as “obtrusive” but wrote to say it would be “less adverse to it” if the Watford logo was removed and further trees were planted to screen it.

Watford has been using the facility as an indoor training centre over the winter months but also pointed to the “substantial and unprecedented” interest in the dome by community groups.

The club has a right to appeal the planning officer’s decision.