Wimbledon expansion plans were on Tuesday night handed a major blow as Wandsworth Council’s planning committee voted against the move for 38 more courts.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club needed Wandsworth Council’s vote having secured support from neighbouring Merton Council last month. The plans were rejected by 7 votes to 0.
Only a small triangle of the proposed development lies within Wandsworth’s boundary (see below image) but the council slapped down the proposals.
The Mayor of London – who this week rejected plans for the MSG Sphere in Stratford – and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove can still grant permission for the proposed Wimbledon expansion.
Plans would see the iconic Grand Slam venue build 38 new courts on a golf course, for which the All England Club have already acquired the lease, adjacent to the existing site which would include a 8,000-seat show court.
Furthermore there would be a public park, other spaces and a number of new trees planted.
Parts of Tuesday’s council meeting saw the project described as “harmful” to Metropolitan Open areas of the capital, which are treated in the same way as the Green Belt.
Labour Councillor for West Hill Wandsworth Angela Ireland spoke of her opposition to the development, citing a lack of benefits to the local community, including job opportunities for local people in council managed areas.
Cllr Dr Daniel Ghossain accused the All England Club of not engaging with local communities.
Councillor for West Hill Ward Malcolm Grimston questioned why the show court “stadium (below) needs to be there 52 weeks of the year, casting its shadow”.
But there has been criticism of those attempting to block the expansion, which would provide an economic boost to the local area during the two-week tournament, with some blaming NIMBYs for blocking new ambitious projects in the capital.
It comes in the same week as mayor Khan’s call to block the construction of the MSG Sphere, which could have provided $2b of private investment in London’s east end.
The tournament was this year won by Carlos Alcaraz in the men’s singles and by Markéta Vondroušová in the women’s singles.
Sally Bolton, Chief Executive of the All England Club, said: “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.
“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.”