The Telegraph, 24 February 2023 (Twitter Link)
Even if plans are approved to build on the neighbouring golf club the case is highly likely to go to appeal
The All England Club’s much-delayed plans to expand into neighbouring Wimbledon Park Golf Course are likely to receive a verdict from the local councils – namely Merton and Wandsworth – in the week beginning April 24.
The club has been applying every bit of leverage it can find – even canvassing potential supporters on Wimbledon High Street – in the battle against the “Save Wimbledon Park” campaign, which has enlisted 12 local residents’ associations as well as four local heritage and environmental associations to its cause.
AELTC chief executive Sally Bolton suggested on Thursday that the club is still optimistic about receiving a favourable response. But even if planning permission is granted, there is a high chance that the decision could then be referred upwards to Sadiq Khan – the mayor of London – or Michael Gove, who is the relevant secretary of state.
The AELTC’s plans for the 73-acre site – which it spent £65m on obtaining from members of the golf club – were originally made public in April 2021. Controversy soon centred around a proposed 8,000-seater “Parkland show court”, which opponents say would contradict a covenant agreed 30 years ago that the land should be kept open.
The “no” campaign also criticises the AELTC’s intention to strip out 300 of the 1,000-odd trees on the site. But this is not necessarily as bad as it sounds. Most of those trees are recent plantings, intended to line the fairways of the golf course, and the 37 new grass courts would be arranged so as not to disturb the ancient oaks planted by Capability Brown in the 18th Century. The AELTC have also committed to planting 1,500 new trees if their plans are approved.
A more pressing concern might be the possible use of chemicals in building works or in maintaining the grass courts, which could cause run-off into the lake – a habitat for the critically endangered European eel.
The plans were originally due to be considered at a council meeting in September, but this has been repeatedly delayed. Even if the process were to zip along smoothly from this moment – which seems unlikely – the site would probably not be ready to host the Wimbledon qualifying tournament until 2030."...read more