- Local planners have rejected Wimbledon’s expansion plans
- Merton Council gave its approval last week, but Wandsworth Council is opposed
- Wimbledon bosses are planning to build 38 new courts and a stadium
With the scheme split between Merton and Wandsworth Councils, the latter’s officials are advising elected representatives that the project should be refused when its planning committee meets next week.
This comes only two weeks after Merton – in which the large majority of the application lies – gave it their approval.
The report released yesterday adds further layers of complexity to a long-running saga, which Wandsworth is suggesting may ultimately have to be decided at national government level.
Their experts disagree with Merton counterparts that the benefits of the development constitute the ‘Very Special Circumstances’ needed to override any harms caused.
Wimbledon’s expansion plans have been dealt a blow after local planners recommended its proposal to build new grounds be rejected
Merton Council approved the plans last week, but Wandsworth Council has opposed them
In particular they are concerned by the impact of a 8,000-seat stadium on the former Wimbledon Park golf course, which was fully acquired by the All England Club in late through an £85,000 payout to members.
‘It is considered that the proposed development would cause substantial harm to and loss of visual and spatial openness of the MOL [Metropolitan Open Land]… The proposal therefore constitutes inappropriate development on MOL, both by reason of impacts on openness and in principle,’ says the report submitted to councillors.
It also questions whether the stadium needs to be a permanent structure, and claims that it is essential to move the qualifying on-site from nearby Roehampton.
While praising plans for a new 23-acre public park, the overall conclusion is that the plans should not pass in current form.
The All England Club’s plan to build an 8,000-seat stadium and 38 other courts at Wimbledon that would allow the Grand Slam to hold its qualifying tournament on site
Wimbledon bosses said they were surprised by the decisions taken by the council
An alliance of local residents and environmental groups oppose the scheme, although there are also plenty of people within the SW19 area who recognise the need for Wimbledon to develop in line with the French, US and Australian Opens, where facilities have been substantially upgraded.
While Wandsworth MP Fleur Anderson said that she was ‘delighted’ by the planners’ verdict, a spokesperson for Wimbledon 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.’