The All England Club’s plans to build a new 8,000-seater stadium in Wimbledon Park suffered a major blow on Tuesday night when the project was rejected by Wandsworth Council. And Wimbledon organisers will now need the intervention of London Mayor Sadiq Khan or Secretary of State Michael Gove to save the proposed £200million development.
Merton Council’s planning committee last month agreed to the controversial plans which includes a total of 39 new grass courts on the Grade II listed Wimbledon Park. But the 46-hectare development also crosses into the neighbouring borough of Wandsworth.
And after Wandsworth officials stated the new stadium would “cause substantial harm to the openness of metropolitan open land”, the Wandsworth planning committee turned down the plans on Tuesday night by seven votes to none.
All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said: “Naturally, we are disappointed by the London Borough of Wandsworth’s decision. 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.”
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Backed by local MPs, the Save Wimbledon Park (SWP) pressure group staged a demonstration outside the meeting after submitting a petition signed by over 15,000 people against the development.
SWP chair 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.
“As yet we have won nothing. In sporting parlance, we move into the next round of the competition, pleased that points we have been making for over two years have finally been acknowledged by politicians. The next step is for the GLA to prevent any further damage to the environment and such important Open Spaces.”
The extra courts would allow Wimbledon qualifying to take place on-site like the other three Grand Slams.