Wimbledon’s proposals to expand the current grounds of the All England Lawn & Tennis Club have been dealt a blow as one of the local councils affected have opposed the plans. Wimbledon Park Golf Club members voted in 2018 in favour of selling the 120-year-old club to the AELTC.
Plans have since been made to vastly expand the current grounds of the All England Club to include a new 8,000-seater stadium along with 38 new outside courts, likened to Wimbledon’s own ‘Disneyland’. The size of the new development stretches over the borders of both Merton and Wandsworth Councils and they don’t appear to agree on the proposals.
Merton gave their approval to the plans last month, despite accepting the development would cause “physical harm” to Metropolitan Open Land. The council decided to give their approval because they felt “very special circumstances” would outweigh any harm caused – something Wandsworth don’t agree on.
Wandsworth officers have advised councillors to vote to refuse the proposals due to ‘inappropriate development on MOL, both by reason of impacts on openness and in principle’.
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The AELTC need both councils and the London Mayor to vote in favour of the plans before they can commence. A spokesperson for the AELTC told the Guardian: “We are surprised that planning officers at the London Borough of Wandsworth have recommended refusal of the AELTC Wimbledon Park project, particularly after the London borough of Merton resolved to approve the application following extensive analysis and debate both in their officers’ report and at the planning committee.
“We regret that Wandsworth’s officers have taken a different view but it is for councillors on the planning applications committee to make their own considered decision at the meeting at 21 November.” Fleur Anderson, the Labour MP for Putney, has led the fight from many local residents opposed to the Wimbledon expansion plan.
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She said: “I am delighted that Wandsworth council planning officers have recommended that the AELTC proposals for Wimbledon Park be refused. “Wimbledon Park is protected, Grade II*-listed metropolitan open land. This means that ‘very special circumstances’ must be proved for it to be built on.
“Wandsworth council planning officers have not found that these ‘very special circumstances’ exist and so have recommended the plans be refused. The campaign continues. Our precious green space must be defended. But this is a very positive step in the right direction.”
A Wandsworth Council planning meeting is scheduled for November 21 when it is expected a final decision will be made. If they vote to approve the plans like Merton, then it will be referred to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
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