Wimbledon chiefs hope council rejects officers’ advice and backs expansion plans

Wimbledon chiefs are hoping Wandsworth councillors will reject the recommendations of planning officers and back their expansion plans at next week’s meeting.

The project, which involves the construction of 38 new courts in neighbouring Wimbledon Park including an 8,000-seat show court, has met with significant protest from some local residents.

The All England Club achieved a major victory last month when Merton Council decided to approve the plans but a smaller section of the site lies within Wandsworth and its planning officers have recommended councillors reject it.

They will meet next Tuesday to make their decision, and an All England Club spokesperson said: “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 on November 21.

“We firmly believe the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project will deliver substantial social, economic and environmental benefits, including 23 acres of newly accessible green space, alongside hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of pounds in economic benefits for our neighbours in Wandsworth, Merton and across London.”

The new show court drew the most concern from planning officers, who concluded that there were not the necessary very special circumstances to outweigh the harm and loss of open land.

Irrespective of the Wandsworth decision, the project will be referred to the Greater London Authority and its fate could ultimately be decided by the government.