Last Updated on 16 August 2023
In March 2023 the Supreme Court decided, in the case of Day v. Shropshire, that when selling public recreation land, a local authority must first advertise the proposed sale and undertake a statutory consultation. If this procedure is not followed, the land remains subject to a statutory trust for public recreational use after its disposal.
The golf-course land in Wimbledon Park was public recreation land prior to its sale to the All England Club in 1993. We have found no evidence that the statutory procedure was followed by Merton Council prior to that disposal. It follows, in the light of the Supreme Court decision, that the land remains restricted to public recreational use.
We consider that planning permission should not be granted for the AELTC scheme which would be incompatible with such public use. The statutory trust is yet another layer of protection for this important site which comprises Metropolitan Open Land, is a Grade II* Listed historic park, and is subject to restrictive covenants preventing development, imposed for the public benefit when the land was sold in 1993. Plainly, the existence of the statutory trust is a further “material consideration” to which the planning decision-makers must have regard.
The Society wrote to both Councils on 13th April setting out these concerns, following the detailed paper from the Wimbledon Park Residents’ Association (WPRA) of 12th April explaining the legal position. You can read the Society’s letter here, and the WPRA paper here.
Since then, further relevant information has come to light. As a result, Wimbledon Park Residents’ Association sent another detailed letter on 13 August which we have fully endorsed. You can read that letter here.