2 June 2023, WimbledonSW19.com
"Opposition is mounting to the controversial proposal by the All England Lawn Tennis Club to develop a new stadium and court complex on Wimbledon Park.
The AELTC wants to build an 8,000-seat stadium along with 38 courts and 10 ancillary buildings to host the annual Wimbledon tennis championships.
But a petition expressing opposition to the scheme has now received nearly 12,000 signatures, and Wandsworth council has also received more than 1,150 letters of opposition.
Campaigners have described the plan as an ‘industrial scale development’ on protected green space with the loss of 300 mature trees.
Although the scheme was expeted to be on the agendas of the planning committees of both Merton and Wandsworth councils in April, it failed to appear.
It now seems the plans for the 73 acre site will not be discussed by councillors before the annual tennis championships take place next month.
By that stage it will more than 18 months since Wimbledon Park Golf Club course was closed to free up the land for the potential development.
The Wimbledon Society, which is one of 12 local residents’ groups backing the 'Save Wimbledon Park' campaign, said on June 1 that Wandsworth Council had received more than 1,150 letters of objection.
They added in a statement on their website: "Merton does not show the number of objections but it is likely to be similar. Although the official date for making comments of the application has now passed, Merton will still consider any representations made until they make a decision on the application. That is still likely to be many weeks away.
"So if you have not already commented you can still send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – state your name and address, the reference number 21/P2900 and your views on the proposals.
And the Society’s Planning & Environment Committee Chair, Chris Goodair, recently pointed out that the AELTC's 101 supporting documents to the borough councils were followed by 60 more in May 2022 and more than 20 in 2023. He said as changes were not tracked it’s "impossible to tell which of the original documents have been amended or superseded and how they have changed."
In the May newsletter of the The London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies he said: "There were concerns about the AELTC’s future intentions when they bought the freehold in 1993. To mitigate this, Merton Council entered into covenants with AELTC not to develop the land for anything other than “leisure or recreation purposes or as an open space” and to create a publicly accessible walk around the Wimbledon Park lake once golf ceased.
"Having bought out the lease and submitted the planning application, golf ceased at 31 December 2022. But no publicly accessible walk around the lake is being created."
The AELTC has said that its plan would actually increase public access to the site due to much of the area being occupied by the golf course.
The scheme had been expected to be determined by the borough planning committees in 2022, with November last year being the previous date when a decision was thought likely. However, more information was requested on the environmental aspect of the schemes which resulted in further delays.
If councillors on both committees approve the plans, then it is believed that it could take a decade for the project to be completed."