Wimbledon expansion plans rejected 

Disappointment for tennis fans! No new courts will be coming to Wimbledon anytime soon...

The All England Tennis Club home to the Wimbledon Championship has faced disappointment after the London Borough of Wandsworth rejected planning permission for a substantial expansion project. The proposal, which included 39 new grass courts and an 8,000-seater show court in Wimbledon Park, had been approved by the London Borough of Merton but faced opposition from Wandsworth. The decision is set to undergo review by the Mayor of London’s office.

The All England Club expressed disappointment, emphasising the project’s potential benefits. Sally Bolton, CEO of AELTC was quoted saying’ “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,” “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.” 

Wandsworth’s planning committee, citing concerns about harm to open land, recommended rejecting the development. Local residents and environmental groups, supported by a petition with 14,000 signatures, opposed the project due to tree felling. The All England Club argues the expansion would provide social, economic, and environmental benefits, including converting private land into a public park. The split decision between the two councils leads to further consideration by the Mayor of London’s office. Some local lawmakers, including Stephen Hammond who represents the Wimbledon constituency was quoted saying’ I think this application is too big and very difficult to justify, “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.”, as welcomed Wandsworth’s refusal, questioning the necessity and scale of the proposed expansion. 

The council’s planning committee unanimously voted against the expansion, agreeing with planning officers’ concerns about the substantial harm it would cause to the openness of metropolitan open land. The proposal had faced criticism from campaigners who labelled it an “industrial tennis complex.” Despite winning approval from the neighbouring Merton council, the AELTC now needs approval from both councils and the mayor of London to proceed with the project. The rejection was celebrated by campaigners and residents who opposed the development. The AELTC maintains that the expansion is necessary to keep Wimbledon as the premier tennis tournament globally. The matter will now be referred to the mayor of London’s office for consideration.