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New Year Message from the Save Wimbledon Park Campaign Group

New Year Message from the Save Wimbledon Park Campaign Group

Save Wimbledon Park (SWP) still has much to do in 2024 but

2023 had plenty of successes. Our campaign petition on

now has over 16,500 signatures. There are over 2,000 objections

on the Merton and Wandsworth planning websites.

In March the Supreme Court case decision in Day v Shropshire was handed down with potentially huge implications for the future of Wimbledon Park. This ruling is a game changer for us. There are still differing legal opinions, but SWP believe that Wimbledon Park is held in trust for the benefit of the public. This ruling delayed the planning meeting dates being set for several months.

Following two fully attended public meetings in the Autumn inSouthfields, our message is getting out there. On 12 September, over 300 people attended St. Barnabas church. As well as an overview of the scheme, the environmental and air quality impacts of the planning application were highlighted and discussed. A final ‘show of hands’ demonstrated overwhelming rejection of the plans.

On 26 October, there was a huge demonstration, covered by BBC1 & ITV before the Merton Planning Committee meeting at which the proposals were approved by 6-4. All 6 Labour Planning Committee members voted to develop 70+ acres of MOL, Grade II* Heritage Registered Park & Garden.

Ross Garrod (Leader of Merton Council) wrote to All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) on 27th October questioning how they would comply with the 1993 Covenants if the proposals were implemented.

On 14th November hundreds attended a second public meeting at St Michael’s Church, Southfields where again, public rejection of the plans was heartfelt and overwhelming.

17th November saw the Petition at more than 15,000 signatures which was formally handed into Wandsworth Council and acknowledged at the PAC meeting the following Tuesday, 21 Nov.

On 21 November, another huge demonstration was covered by ITV, BBC and other press outside Wandsworth Town Hall before the Wandsworth Planning Committee meeting. Unanimous decision 7-0 to refuse the application.

The ever-expanding Petition against the plans was delivered to the Greater London Authority (GLA) at City Hall on 24th November, by which time it was over 16,000.

The GLA meeting on 8th December discussed the application. All documents and submissions will be passed to the GLA by Merton and Wandsworth Councils at the same time, early in the New Year. Once both tranches of information have been received, the GLA has 14 days to decide what to do next, namely:

1. Directing Merton to reject the application, bringing the two boroughs into alignment, OR

2. The Mayor takes over the application acting in place of the local planning authorities.

Awareness and understanding of just how enormous the AELTC development would be, is sinking in. We have seen regular media coverage on radio and TV along with well over 130 articles in local, national and international media. Our thanks for their support go to our two MPs - Stephen Hammond and Fleur Anderson, many local councillors, members of the GLA and environmental organisations and of course those working tirelessly within SWP and the local Residents Associations in Wimbledon and Southfields for their ongoing opposition to this proposed industrial tennis complex.

This is a National and International environmental issue. If this legally protected Metropolitan Open Land is developed for a private members club, it will set a precedent and as the Wandsworth Planning officer pointed out, around 50 other sites all around London are potentially under threat, not to mention those in other

UK cities.

Thirty years ago when the land was sold, both Merton and AELTC promised never to allow building on this Grade II* Heritage Registered Park and Garden in a legally binding agreement. However, in July 2021, when the application was lodged, the AELTC (Ian Hewitt, then Chairman) stated they’d changed their

minds. What would stop them breaking trust again in the future if their plans are waved through in 2024?

Please make sure that you’ve signed the petition here:

Please spread the word to anyone who cares about the environment, fairness and the rule of law.

Let’s make 2024 a very Happy New Year for Wimbledon Park, our local Air Quality and the wider Environment.

Thank you for reading our New Year Message.

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