Council Rejection Deals Blow to Wimbledon’s Expansion Plans

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Despite Wimbledon’s ambitious plans for expansion, hopes have been dashed as the council recently rejected the proposal, casting uncertainty over the future growth of the iconic sports venue.

In a setback for the All England Tennis Club, organizers of Wimbledon, disappointment loomed as the London Borough of Wandsworth declined planning permission for an expansive project.

This initiative encompassed the addition of 39 grass courts and an 8,000-seater showcourt in Wimbledon Park. Despite initial approval from the London Borough of Merton, Wandsworth’s planning committee vetoed the proposal. Consequently, the decision will undergo further evaluation by the Mayor of London’s office.

“Naturally, we are disappointed by the London Borough of Wandsworth’s decision,” Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club, said in a statement.

“Our proposals will deliver one of the greatest sporting transformations for London since 2012, alongside substantial benefits for the local community.”

The All England Tennis Club (AELTC) faced a setback as both Wandsworth and Merton councils needed to approve their expansion plans, which were declined by Wandsworth.

Planning officers cited potential harm to open land as grounds for opposition, confirmed in a tweet from Wandsworth’s council. Local resistance, including a 14,000-strong petition against felling 300 trees, influenced the decision, despite AELTC’s pledge to plant over 1,000 trees. Protesters gathered outside Wandsworth Town Hall during the council’s decision-making.

The AELTC’s bid for Wimbledon Park Golf Club in 2018 aimed at resolving the logistical challenge of hosting the Wimbledon qualifying competition kilometers away. The club insists their expansion would repurpose private land for public benefit.

“We firmly believe the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project offers significant social, economic and environmental improvements, including turning 23 acres of previously private land into a new public park, alongside hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of pounds in economic benefits for our neighbours in Wandsworth, Merton and across London,” Bolton said.

“Given the split council decision, with the London Borough of Merton resolving to approve our application last month, our planning application will now be referred to the Mayor of London’s office for consideration.”

Lawmaker Stephen Hammond, who represents the Wimbledon constituency, said he was pleased Wandsworth had refused the plans.

“I think this application is too big and very difficult to justify,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. “It is not clear that you need the 39 courts, it is not clear that they need to build the size of show court they are talking about, and it is not clear that they have thought about the building in the public park.”


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