The development was set to treble the size of the famous south-west London tennis site, adding a new Wimbledon show court and 38 other grass tennis courts with temporary seating for the All England Lawn Tennis Ground (AELTG).
But while the majority of the scheme (90 per cent of the 29.5ha site, including its landmark show court) sits in the borough of Merton, a number of the proposed tennis courts lie just north of the borough’s boundary, in Wandsworth.
The proposed development was approved by Merton Council on 26 October but Wandsworth planning officers have recommended the application for refusal. It will be considered by the council’s planning committee next Friday (24 November).
The application must be approved by both councils if it is to go ahead.
A Wandsworth planning officer’s report said the Wimbledon development should be rejecrted as it ‘would constitute inappropriate development’, which would not be mitigated by ‘any Very Special Circumstances’.
The report read: ‘The proposed development would result in the net loss of open space/green infrastructure by reason of the development of substantial areas of parts of the site that are primarily grass, with no replacement provision provided.’
It added: ‘It is not considered that the benefits of the development clearly outweigh the harm caused by the loss of open space.’
Allies and Morrison submitted its designs for an 8,000-capacity ‘parkland’ show court venue in July 2021.
The proposed court, which features a retractable roof and sits in a ring of oak trees, would become the tennis club’s third-largest court after Centre Court and Court One, bringing Wimbledon in line with other grand slam venues.
But the plans proved controversial, with objectors opposing building on the Grade II* listed Registered Park and Garden (RPG), landscaped by Capability Brown in the 18th century.
More than 2,000 objections to the scheme were submitted to Merton Council while a change.org petition to ‘Save Wimbledon Park’ has attracted more than 14,000 signatures.
Conservation groups including SAVE Britain’s Heritage, Friends of Wimbledon Park and the Capability Brown Society were among the objectors, as well as a number of residents’ associations and numerous local councillors.
SAVE Britain’s Heritage insisted it ‘strongly supported the principle’ of restoring the historic landscape on the site but claimed the complex of 38 tennis courts and show court would ’cause substantial harm to the character and significance’ of Wimbledon Park.
Meanwhile, Historic England previously told the AJ that the site’s development ‘could bring benefits to the Grade II* Registered landscape of Wimbledon Park’, but added: ‘We still have concerns about the overall scale and extent of the proposed new structures on this special landscape.’
The AELTC has said that the new venue would allow it to bring its qualifying tournament to Wimbledon’s main site, instead of nearby Roehampton, provide more resilience in the tournament schedule, and increase viewing opportunities for the public with more unreserved seats available to anyone with a grounds pass.
The plans include opening up 9.4ha of parkland to the public including the restoration of the Serpentine Lake and the planting of 1,000 trees.
Architect Ruth Edwards, senior project manager at the All England Club, previously described the project as ‘a once in a lifetime architectural, landscape, heritage, and engineering opportunity’.
It was made possible after the club purchased 28ha of land from the neighbouring Wimbledon Park Golf Club in 2018 for £65 million.