Wandsworth councillors reject Wimbledon Tennis expansion plans

Wimbledon Tennis expansion plans suffered a setback on Tuesday evening, after councillors on the Wandsworth Borough planning committee voted unanimously against proposals to build on Wimbledon Park.

The proposal put forward by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) would see the construction of 39 new courts and a new 8,000 seat stadium for the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

AELTC needed Wandsworth Council’s vote, having secured support from neighbouring Merton Council last month, but their plans were rejected by 7 votes to 0 after several hours of debate.

The controversial proposal has received an extensive amount of backlash, and over one hundred people attended a demonstration outside Wandsworth Town Hall before the meeting.

Iain Simpson, Chair of Save Wimbledon Park, a campaign group against the proposal, said: “This result is very heartening.

“The councillors unanimously recognised the crucial point that this application provides no justification for so much harm to Metropolitan Open Land, our precious Green Belt.

“We have nothing against the tennis.

“However, protecting the environment, a desire shared by the GLA and all Londoners, and keeping open space truly public for the recreation and well being of real local communities is much more important.”

PROTESTING PLANS: Campaigners against the proposal have been dedicated to resisting the expansion.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Greater London Authority (GLA) are now expected to review the AELTC’s proposal.

From there, it could then be passed on for consideration by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, for the final decision.

Simpson said: “We are pleased that points we have been making for over two years have finally been acknowledged by politicians. 

“The next step is for the GLA to prevent any further damage to the environment and such important open spaces.”

AELTC Chief Executive Sally Bolton said in a statement: “Naturally, we are disappointed by the London Borough of Wandsworth’s decision.

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

“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.”

Both sides have acknowledged the process is far from finished, but this latest development has created a new twist in the saga which has been ongoing since July 2021.

Feature Image Credit: Jonathan Morrish

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