Wimbledon’s expansion plans have suffered a setback after Wandsworth councillors voted unanimously to reject proposals for 38 new courts in neighbouring Wimbledon Park.
The seven councillors acted upon the advice of their planning chiefs despite Merton Council, in which the majority of the site is located, approving it last month.
The application will now be referred to the Mayor of London’s office and the All England Club remains hopeful that it will still be given the green light.
All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said in a statement: “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.”
The All England Club’s application, which included an 8,000-capacity show court on land previously occupied by Wimbledon golf course, had met fierce resistance from some local residents.
REJECTED 🙅♀️ Wahoooooo!!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🤩🎉🤩 @wandbc
A step in the right direction ! Well done 👏 team
— SaveWimbledonPark (@SaveWimbldnPark) November 21, 2023
Wandsworth’s planning officers recommended councillors reject the proposals last week, after concluding that there were not the necessary very special circumstances to outweigh the harm and loss of open land.
The latest development was welcomed by the pressure group Save Wimbledon Park (SWP), whose members have campaigned against the proposals.
Despite acknowledging the process was far from finished, chairman Iain Simpson said: “This result is very heartening. 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.”