Scheme now in hands of Sadiq Khan and Michael Gove after Wandsworth council votes to refuse application
Allies & Morrison’s plans for the biggest expansion of Wimbledon’s grounds in the championship’s history have suffered a major planning setback.
Wandsworth council voted against consent for around 10% of the 73-acre site, backing a recommendation to refuse made by the local authority’s planning officers last week.
While the proposals to treble the size of the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s (AELTC) grounds received consent from Merton council last month, the decision puts the future of the scheme in doubt as both councils need to approve the application for it to go ahead.
London mayor Sadiq Khan now has two weeks to decide whether or not to take over the application, a move which could also be taken by secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities Michael Gove.
Allies & Morrison’s plans would add an 8,000-seat show court and 38 new grass courts on land east of the existing Centre Court and No.1 Court.
The AELTC has described the scheme as “one of the greatest sporting transformations for London since the 2012 Olympics”.
Organisers of the championships have argued that the expansion is necessary to stop Wimbledon falling behind the three other grand-slam tournaments, the Australian, French and US opens.
There has also been a longstanding wish to hold the tournament’s qualifying event on site rather than three miles away in Roehampton.
The club has promised to create a new 23-acre public park in the style of Capability Brown, the original designer of the grade II*-listed Wimbledon Park.
But Wandsworth planning officers said the plans constitute “inappropriate development” and would cause “substantial harm to the openness” of the metropolitan open land.
“Naturally, we are disappointed by the London Borough of Wandsworth’s decision,” AELTC chief executive Sally Bolton said.
She added: “We firmly believe the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project offers significant social, economic and environmental improvements, including turning 23 acres of previously private land into a new public park, alongside hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of pounds in economic benefits for our neighbours in Wandsworth, Merton and across London.”