First padel tennis centre in Medway is approved

14 December 2023In Chatham2 Minutes
Machine Shop No 8 at Chatham Dockside

Plans for a padel tennis centre in Chatham have received the green light.

Machine Shop No 8, next to the Dockside Outlet Centre, is set to house the fast-growing sport, which is a mix between tennis and squash.

Ten playing courts and two restaurants will be created.

As part of the plans, the Grade II*-listed iron skeleton will also be restored and partially clad.

The iron frame of Machine Shop No 8

Approval for the planning application faced delays following an objection by Historic England.

The original plans submitted last year did not involve cladding the structure, which prompted the government watchdog to raise concerns about the building’s long-term future as it would have remained exposed to the elements.

It eventually withdrew its objection after amended plans included partial cladding and a new roof.

The structure has been on Historic England’s national Heritage at Risk Register since 2001 due to its state of dereliction and disrepair.

Architect's impression of the padel tennis centre in Machine Shop No 8. Photo: Covell Matthews Architects

Built for Woolwich Dockyard in 1840, it is one of the country’s oldest surviving iron-framed dry dock covers.

It was moved to Chatham Dockyard in 1865 where it was used as a machine shop, before being stripped down to its bare iron frame following the Dockyard’s closure in 1984.

The owner, retail management firm WD Ltd, bought it in 2017 and submitted plans for a drive-thru cinema in 2021 – but these were refused by Medway Council.

The nearest padel tennis courts are currently in Ashford, Bromley and Tonbridge.

It is not yet known when the new centre will open.