The All England Club’s plans to build a new 8,000-seater stadium at Wimbledon Park were dealt a major blow on Tuesday night when Wandsworth Council rejected the project. And Wimbledon organizers will now need the intervention of London Mayor Sadiq Khan or Secretary of State Michael Gove to save the planned £200million development.
Merton Council’s planning committee last month agreed to the controversial plans which include 39 new grass courts at Grade II listed Wimbledon Park. But the 46 hectare development crosses into the nearby borough of Wandsworth.
And after Wandsworth officials said the new stadium would “significantly damage the openness of the city’s open land”, Wandsworth’s planning committee rejected the plans on Tuesday night by seven votes.
All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said: “We are of course disappointed by the London Borough of Wandsworth’s decision. Given the decision of the split council, and the London Borough of Merton deciding to approve our application last month, our planning application will now be submitted to the Mayor of London’s office for consideration.”
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Backed by local MPs, pressure group Save Wimbledon Park (SWP) staged a demonstration outside the meeting after submitting a petition signed by over 15,000 people against the development.
SWP Chairman Iain Simpson said, “This result is very encouraging. The councilors unanimously recognized the crucial point that this application does not justify causing so much damage to the City’s Open Land, our precious Green Belt.
“We haven’t won anything yet. From a sporting point of view, we move into the next round of the competition, happy that politicians have finally recognized points we have been making for over two years. The next step is for the GLA to prevent any further damage to the environment and such important Open Spaces.”
The extra courts would allow for Wimbledon qualification on the spot like the other three Grand Slams.
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