The All England Lawn Tennis Club is planning the biggest expansion of its facilities in decades. It is applying for planning permission to build an 8,000-seater stadium, 38 outdoor courts and 10 ancillary buildings on the former Wimbledon Park Golf Course which is a Grade II* Registered Park and Garden, Metropolitan Open Land (the urban equivalent of Green Belt) and a Conservation Area. The project will transform the historic parkland originally designed by ‘Capability’ Brown into a major tennis complex. The development is expected to take 8 years and when completed, will bring an estimated 190,000 more spectators to the annual tournament, including the Qualifying Event which will relocate from Roehampton.
The proposed development would be the biggest in the Wimbledon area in modern times and will have implications for the whole community. We have objected to this application for a number of reasons.
Our key concerns are:
1. Under National planning rules (NPPF) very special circumstances need to exist for development on Metropolitan Open Land to be allowed.
2. The proposed stadium will have a retractable roof and a full range of facilities including a hospitality area, restaurants and storage. At almost 30m high it will be similar in height to a 10-storey block of flats.
3. The environmental impact due to the scale of the project will be significant. The stadium and the 10 ancillary buildings require large concrete foundations, and each of the 38 courts will have a concrete surround. The stadium will be mostly concrete. There is bound to be major traffic and construction noise throughout the 8 year building phase.
4. The structures and connecting access roads will be unused for most of the year yet will infill and level a substantial proportion of protected parkland requiring the removal of several hundred mature trees (to be replaced by younger specimens).
5. The density of the development means that the ‘Queue’ and spectator parking would still be sited in the existing Public Park.
6. Church Road would continue to be closed for the championships period to the public, to create a vast single tennis venue, with the 493 bus re-routed.
7. ‘Community Benefits’ are promised, including public access to a section of the parkland (permissive only, in other words at the discretion of the AELTC and could be withdrawn at any point), de-silting of the Lake, and construction of a public walkway round the Lake.
8. When it acquired the freehold to the land in 1993, the AELTC promised publicly to keep the entirety of the land as open space and entered into restrictive covenants with Merton Council not to build on it. It also covenanted to create the lakeside walkway as soon as golf permanently ceased to be played on the land.
If you wish to read our letter in full, you can see it here.
The full planning application and accompanying documents can be found at Online Standard Details (merton.gov.uk)scroll down and click on ‘View Related Documents’. Link to map showing area of new development.