Opposition to Wimbledon expansion grows as MPs call for councils to reject plans

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Wimbledon’s huge park plan includes a stadium and 38 tennis courts (Handout)
Wimbledon’s huge park plan includes a stadium and 38 tennis courts (Handout)

Opposition to a major plan to revamp Wimbledon continues to grow as two south-west London MPs this week argued against the proposed developments.

The All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) have put forward proposals for 39 tennis courts on Wimbledon Park Golf Course, including an 8,000-seat show court, but have faced mounting criticism from local residents and groups who claim it would negatively impact the environment.

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond and Putney MP Fleur Anderson on Monday said the plans were “inappropiate” and Merton and Wandsworth Councils should reject the proposal.

The proposed 38 new courts would be used for the Wimbledon qualifying rounds, rather than the club’s site in nearby Roehampton, and player practice during the competition.

The proposal asks for full planning permission for the tennis courts and associated infrastructure, which would include “re-profiling of the landscape and the removal, retention and replanting of trees”.

The plan also asks for the provision of a boardwalk around the perimeter of, and across, Wimbledon Park Lake, lake alterations, highway works to Church Road and new pedestrian access points.

“Local residents appreciate the existing world class sports event in our area, however there is strong local opposition to these plans,” said Mr Hammond and Ms Anderson in a joint statement.

“The new area of Wimbledon Park is a small part of the development which will not have any protection against future development and will be mainly closed to the public for at least 5 weeks each summer.

“The size and mass of the new show court stadium is of an inappropriate scale to be built on Metropolitan Open Land.”

The two MPs have requested the councils hold a “special full planning committee” to discuss the development proposal only.

“We both agree on the importance of protecting our local green spaces, responding to the climate emergency, and carefully and rigorously scrutinising all proposed developments that will impact the communities we represent,” the statement said.

An AELTC spokesman told the Standard the plan involves opening up of previously private land “to be enjoyed by residents in Merton and Wandsworth”.

“It is our hope that these benefits...such as an increase in biodiversity of the site and the planting of 1,500 trees, will provide a lasting legacy for our community to enjoy for years to come.

“We are always open to feedback, questions and comments from our local communities.

“Throughout this process, which began more than a year ago, we have held several community engagement events, and have continued to consult proactively with local residents and elected representatives alike.”

Wandsworth planning consultation on the development closes on Tuesday.

Merton’s planning consultation can be entered by emailing planning.representations@merton.gov.uk with the reference number 21/P2900. It closes on August 15.