Anti-dome campaigners and residents heckled a headteacher at a meeting last night about his controversial plans for new sports facilities.

More than 40 people attended the first of two meetings at Nonsuch High School for Girls, in Cheam, which wants to build a sports dome, pavilion, running track and pitches.

Audience members interrupted headteacher Peter Gale during a speech when he acknowledged the existing parking problems in roads near the school in Ewell Road.

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Resident Sally Williams asks a question at the meeting

School shrinks proposed sports dome in face of opposition

Sally Williams, who belongs to pressure group No to Nonsuch Dome, shouted out: "Quite clearly there is a problem. You are building something that’s going to create a further parking problem."

Mr Gale said he disagreed and another woman said: "Well, I live opposite the school and I do not disagree. I think you’re just forging ahead."

The headteacher explained that the school would create 55 extra parking spaces as part of the project.

But she hit back saying: "You are going to open it in the evenings to help pay for the development.

"We will suffer because there will be an increase in the flow of traffic. All that traffic, all that pollution and all that noise will be our experience."

During the meeting, three students from the school outlined the social, physical and mental health benefits of sport in an appeal for residents to back the plans.

One girl said: "We can’t see how any further participation in sport can be negative."

Another added: "We have to look at this project as an investment in the dreams and hopes of young people."

Meanwhile resident Frances Wright made an impassioned plea for the preservation of nature reserve Warren Farm, which runs alongside the site.

Ms Wright, who brought along a picture, said: "What about our mental health benefits? Look at this beautiful picture. This is the scene that the school will ruin.

"We want to go and walk in open spaces and to continue to enjoy looking at the beauty of the scene without any floodlights or horrible artificial domes over the top."

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In response, Mr Gale said: "That’s your opinion and I respect your opinion. I think that it won’t ruin walks in Warren Farm if you look how we are going to screen it."

In addition to landscaping, architect Keith Benyon-Tinker said the dome would be patterned in order to "blend in" and its generator would be in a sound-proof enclosure.

Mr Benyon-Tinker said: "Lights are directed downwards so the light transmission though the dome will be minimal."

Roger Thompson thanked the pupils for their "very informative" speech and said: "The health benefits of sport are immense, no-one can deny that.

"Likewise so are the detrimental health benefits from irritation, stress, anxiety and other mental difficulties."

Mr Thompson, who lives opposite the proposed floodlit football pitch, said: "We as residents in earshot will have that hideous shouting every night of the week."

After the meeting, Councillor Graham Whitham, who represents Cheam ward, said they had pushed the school to engage in "open discussion" with residents.

Coun Whitham said: "Tonight is all very well, but might have been easier if they had spoken to people beforehand and said what their ideas were beforehand.

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"This is one of the frustrations that I think people have had. They have only been presented with an end result."

Campaigner Neill Denny said he was amazed that Mr Gale had said he was "not sure" how much the project would cost.

Mr Denny said if the school does not know the cost then it could not anticipate how much use they need to make it viable.

He said: "It’s quite extraordinary that they are going to build this thing but they cannot really project how much traffic it’s going to generate or noise."

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A planning application has been submitted to Epsom Council.

View the plans, with reference 14/00444/FUL at