Wimbledon tennis expansion plan rejected by Wandsworth Council: What does the £200m project entail?

A birds eye view of how the Wimbledon Tennis Club could look by 2028. Credit: AELTC
A birds eye view of how the Wimbledon Tennis Club could look by 2028. Credit: AELTC

Plans to build a new 8,000-seat stadium and 38 further tennis courts on a Grade II*-listed park in Wimbledon has been rejected by Wandsworth council.

The £200 million project by the All England Club (AELTC) had been previously approved by Merton Council but its neighbouring council rejected the plans by seven votes to nil at a committee meeting on Tuesday night.

Councillors followed Wandsworth’s planning officers' recommendations to reject the plans saying they would “cause substantial harm to the openness of metropolitan open land”.

Image of what the show court would look like
Image of what the show court would look like

With the site falling within both boroughs - although the majority of the plot lies in Merton - the plans need the approval of both councils.

Due to the split decision, they have now been referred to the mayor of London, who this week rejected plans for the MSG Sphere in Stratford, and the Greater London Authority.

The proposals could also be referred to Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, who could grant permission for the proposed expansion.

What does the Wimbledon tennis expansion plan involve?

The All England Club plans to to almost triple the size of the tennis championship grounds from 17 hectares to 46 hectares.

The development includes building a new 8,000 seater show court, 38 additional practice courts, more than 9 km of roads and 10 maintenance hubs.

Currently, 18 grass courts are used at the Wimbledon Championships, an additional 20 grass practice courts and eight clay courts.

The All England Club has promised to turn 23 acres previously private land into a new public park.

Save Wimbledon Park

A petition objecting to the expansion of the former Wimbledon Park Golf Club has attracted 16,000 signatures.

Campaigners from Save Wimbledon Park argue that the new complex would “break the 1993 covenants demanded by Merton to protect the golf course and agreed by AELTC on their purchase”.

The campaign group is concerned about the environmental impact saying the development would damage the biodiversity of the land.

Iain Simpson, the chair of Save Wimbledon Park, said the outcome following the Wandsworth vote was "very heartening", adding: "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."

What is AELTC saying?

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.”