Wimbledon expansion plans in doubt again as council recommends rejection
Wimbledon have suffered a potential blow after Wandsworth council planning officers recommended the All England Club’s expansion be blocked.
The project hopes to construct a new 8000-seat show court – one of 38 new courts in total – in Wimbledon Park, and it looked set for the go-ahead when Merton Council approved plans last month despite significant local opposition.
However, a smaller part of the site crosses the border into Wandsworth, meaning planners needed to seek the approval of both councils. Wandsworth, though, have registered their resistance.
The final decision in Wandsworth will now go to councillors, who are will decide whether or not to back the recommendations of the planning officers or not. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 21 November.
“We are surprised that planning officers at the London Borough of Wandsworth have recommended refusal of the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project, particularly after the London Borough of Merton resolved to approve the application following extensive analysis and debate both in their officers’ report and at the planning committee,” an All England Club statement read.
“We regret that Wandsworth’s officers have taken a different view but it is for councillors on the Planning Applications Committee to make their own considered decision at the meeting on November 21.
“We firmly believe the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project will deliver substantial social, economic and environmental benefits, including 23 acres of newly accessible green space, alongside hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of pounds in economic benefits for our neighbours in Wandsworth, Merton and across London.”
Why have Wandsworth panning officers rejected Wimbledon expansion?
Opposition from locals about the Wimbledon expansion has rumbled on for some time, although the planners of the project have managed to largely overcome them.
Wandsworth residents have been similarly concerned, but planning officers have advised the project is blocked mainly due to the show court.
Wimbledon already has six show courts. Centre court is the most prestigious of them, of course, with a near 15,000 capacity and retractable roof. Court 1 also has a retractable roof and is another large venue, holding more then 12,000 spectators. There are four others: court 2, court 3, court 12 and court 18. All of those four are smaller than the proposed new show court would be.
As well as the show courts, there are also 15 outside courts – as well as 22 practice courts.
All of the courts mentioned above are grass courts, but there are actually 55 in total on the current site.
With that in mind, it has been deemed by Wandsworth planning officers that the new show court – given the existence of so many others – did not meet the threshold for special circumstances to outweigh its potential harm and the loss of open land.
Read >> World’s best tennis magazine