Boost for Wimbledon Tennis Expansion Plans

Merton Council rejects motion to enforce restrictive covenants

Bird's eye view of how the Wimbledon Tennis Club could look by 2028
Bird's eye view of how the Wimbledon Tennis Club could look by 2028. Picture: AELTC

A huge expansion of Wimbledon Tennis Club into a nearby park could go ahead after Merton Council rejected plans to block the scheme.

The famous All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) wants to expand into the neighbouring Wimbledon Park Golf Club.

If approved it would span 67 hectares between Wimbledon and Wandsworth. But the plans have faced opposition with more than 1,000 public complaints and 30 letters of support.

At a meeting on Wednesday night (2 February) opposition councillors brought forward a motion to enforce restrictive covenants which could block the development even if a planning application was successful.

Councillor Paul Kohler said: “When the freehold was sold to the All England club in 1993 the promises were firm and the covenants water tight, the land would only be used for recreation purposes and the land not built on.

“But now the AELTC has come forward with this plan to build a 10-storey show court, fell over 300 mature trees, build 9km of road, build 38 additional tennis courts – grass it’s true but surrounded by concrete – build 10 ancillary buildings, dredge a lake that is home to the endangered European eel.”

CGI of the Parklands Show Court, part of the All England Tennis Club plan. Picture: AELTC

The Liberal Democrat councillor said that locals would be disturbed by eight years of building works.

He added: “The last thing that Merton needs to meet its carbon targets is to produce a concrete monolith, an industrial tennis complex in the heart of Wimbledon Park.”

But Council leader, Councillor Mark Allison said the development would see the creation of a new public park, the first in London since the Olympic Park in 2012.

Wimbledon Park Golf Club
Wimbledon Park Golf Club

Cabinet member for culture, leisure and skills Councillor Brenda Fraser said: “The public will finally be allowed onto land that has always been private before and an incredible 1,500 trees will be planted.”

The Labour administration tabled an alternative motion which said the covenant “will need to be respected henceforth” rather than enforced as set out in the original motion.

AELTC addresses a series of concerns on its website under the heading “mythbusting”. Here it said: “We take the importance of preserving the local environment and heritage very seriously.”

AELTC was contacted for comment.

Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter

February 4, 2022