Wimbledon vow to fight for expansion plans despite major setback
Wimbledon have suffered a serious setback to their expansion plans after Wandsworth Council rejected the scheme.
The All England Club hope to build 38 new courts, including a new 8000-set show court in neighbouring Wimbledon Park.
The majority of the plans are under the jurisdiction of Merton Council, and they have already approved the plans. However, they also require permission from Wandsworth, and councillors have opted to back last week’s recommendations from planning officers to reject the scheme.
Since it is a split decision, it will now be referred to the Mayor of London’s office for a final decision.
“Naturally, we are disappointed by the London Borough of Wandsworth’s decision,” said All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton.
“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.
REJECTED 🙅♀️ Wahoooooo!!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🤩🎉🤩 @wandbc
A step in the right direction ! Well done 👏 team
— SaveWimbledonPark (@SaveWimbldnPark) November 21, 2023
“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.”
Meanwhile, opposition group Save Wimbledon Park (SWP) have claimed a major victory, saying: “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.”
Why is their opposition to Wimbledon expansion?
While for most of us, the wonderful sights of Wimbledon only really play a part in our lives for two weeks every year, there has always been a need to balance the prestige of the tournament with the built-up residential area that surrounds it.
That is why, unlike other Grand Slams, there is a strict curfew, to minimise noise through the night for residents.
Understandably, people who live around the venue are concerned about protecting their area, and there are a number of reasons for the opposition.
One of them is the 8000-seat show court, which will be a very significant structure. In fact, it will be the equivalent of a 10-story block of flats. There is a fear that the venue may also be offered up for events outside of the tennis, such as concerts, which would cause more problems for locals.
Then there is the matter of general disruption and construction. The ambitious plans would ensure building work would become a fixture at the site for the rest of the decade, and significant changes to the transport infrastructure would cause further everyday havoc.
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