Last Updated on 6 November 2023
On the 26th October, Merton’s Planning Committee voted by a narrow majority (6:4) to approve the AELTC planning application to develop the heavily protected Wimbledon Park. This is despite the significant local opposition based on environmental and legal issues and against the advice of Merton’s own conservation officer, design review panel and local plan inspectors. This is green belt Metropolitan Open Land, grade II* listed like Cannizaro and Battersea Parks. Politicians, from all parties, all local residents’ associations and national heritage organisations are working alongside us in this campaign to prevent this travesty.
The Wimbledon Society are proud of the tennis championship played in our borough and have, from the outset of these plans becoming public, tried to engage positively with the AELTC to no avail and so we will continue to oppose this application.
The only perceivable benefit offered to local residents is the small park that the AELTC are proposing within this scheme. But the park is not held in trust as a community benefit, it’s part of their complex. They will “permit” access, can close it at any time at their whim or take it away completely. Anyone from Merton could play on the whole golf course, which the AELTC have closed. It may never be open to the public again: “Once it’s gone, it’s gone”.
This is not the end of this battle though, far from it. There are many other hurdles to go through first and we will be there at each stage. Interestingly straight after the planning decision, the Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Garrod wrote to the AELTC stating:
“The Wimbledon Park Golf Course is subject to restrictive covenants established in the 1993 transfer to All England Lawn Tennis Ground (AELTG). These restrictive covenants include requirements for the owner to use the land only for leisure and recreation or as an open space and places restrictions on the erection of buildings. The development for which planning consent has been granted cannot commence without addressing the restrictive covenants in the 1993 transfer.
“I would be grateful if you could advise how you intend to implement the planning consent, if granted, without breaching the restrictive covenants.”
Those who read this, even lawyers and planning officers, will reasonably ask, if this is the law then how can you approve a planning application that clearly falls foul of it? This appears to be equivalent to the Council running a Formula 1 race on a track with a 30mph speed limit and then being surprised that all the drivers are disqualified for breaking the law.
How can you help? Please sign the Save Wimbledon Park Petition if you have not already done so, and also write to your local Councillors in Merton and Wandsworth, local political parties, the GLA and to the AELTC expressing your opposition. And remember:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela
Our detailed objections to this planning application are here