Wimbledon residents holding up a placard outside Southfields tube station.

‘Pure greed’: Wimbledon residents object to new tennis courts

Residents have submitted more than one hundred objections to plans to redevelop Wimbledon Park Golf Course into new tennis courts.

The proposal was submitted by All England Lawn Tennis Ground, which owns the courts used for the world-famous Wimbledon tennis championships.

A total of 185 objection comments have been lodged on the Wandsworth Council website at the time of writing, with more submitted to Merton Council.

The prestigious Championships at Wimbledon are the oldest tennis tournament in the world.

Currently, the main events are held on grounds on Church Road, across from Wimbledon Park, but the qualifying event is held in Roehampton.

The plans for the 39.7 hectare site include building an extra 38 grass tennis courts and an 8,000-seat parkland show court.  

Digital image of a view of parkland and the planned showcourt.
PREVIEW: The proposed showcourt Credit: All England Lawn Tennis Club

The new facilities would be used to move the qualifying rounds to Wimbledon, prolonging what residents say is a yearly period of increased traffic and commotion.

Some also believe the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has no real need for additional courts.

Stuart Mathieson, 62, has been encouraging residents to voice objections to councils.

Mathieson said: “The residents feel that it’s wholly inappropriate. Everywhere you looked would be a tennis court, with the odd tree here and there. So really a desecration of the land.”

Also in the proposal are a boardwalk around and across Wimbledon Park Lake and the opening up of a section of parkland to the public.

Virtual image of an aerial view of the planned facilities.
AERIAL VIEW: What the site will look like if the plans go ahead. Credit: All England Lawn Tennis Club

However, the AELTC says its redevelopment plans will benefit the community.

Ian Hewitt, AELTC Chairman, said in a statement: “We respect heritage. We embrace our responsibility to society.

“This is a unique and exciting opportunity to enhance Wimbledon’s position as the world’s premier tennis tournament, to maintain the beneficial social and economic impact for Merton, Wandsworth, London and indeed the UK generally, and to provide significant year-round local community benefit, all within a beautiful and historic landscape.“

In a written objection to Wandsworth Council, Joseph Gurney said: “The sheer volume of construction is too much on such a green space, 38 courts is pure greed – huge amounts of infrastructure and cement being poured for little reason – where there was previously more grass and biodiversity.

“Another London green space that is being sacrificed – but this one doesn’t even deliver any housing.”

There are currently only five comments supporting the application on the Wandsworth Council website. 

The AELTC claims the environmental impact of the redevelopment will be limited.

“The project also provides opportunity for significant enhancement of biodiversity, wildlife and other sustainability measures within the parkland,” the AELTC said in a statement.

When consulted by Merton Council to assess the plans, the Environment Agency said the application has a low environmental risk.

Mathieson has also launched two petitions aimed at the councils and the AELTC seeking to address residents’ concerns about disturbance experienced during the Championships in past years.

The petitions address the use of parts of Wimbledon Park as a car park and the closure of Church Road for event circulation.

The AELTC has said it aims to reduce car trips to and from the Championships and is investigating the possibility of removing the car park.

“We will take on board all the comments we receive from members of the public as part of the statutory consultation process when our planning committee meets to consider its decision,” a Wandsworth Council spokesperson said.

Merton Council has been approached for comment.

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