Battle of the Courts: Wimbledon Tennis Club’s Expansion Plans Face Opposition from Local Council

All England Lawn Tennis Club’s proposal to build a new stadium in Wimbledon Park sparks controversy and opposition from residents and environmental campaigners.

While tennis fans eagerly await the Wimbledon Championships, a different kind of match is set to take place in Wimbledon next week. The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) finds itself embroiled in a battle with a local council over its plans to construct an 8,000-seat stadium on Wimbledon Park, a Grade II*-listed park. The AELTC’s proposal has faced strong opposition, with campaigners dubbing it an “industrial tennis complex.” The outcome of this clash will determine the future of the prestigious tournament and the park’s preservation.

A Clash of Boundaries and Permissions

The AELTC’s expansion plans require the approval of both Wandsworth and Merton councils, as well as the mayor of London and potentially the secretary of state for levelling up, housing, and communities. While the neighboring Merton council granted approval last month, a small portion of the park falls within Wandsworth’s jurisdiction. The AELTC must now convince Wandsworth’s planning committee to vote in favor of the project.

Planning Officers Recommend Refusal

Wandsworth’s planning officers, however, have recommended that councillors reject the proposed development. They argue that the construction would cause “substantial harm to the openness of metropolitan open land.” In a comprehensive 123-page report, the officers question the club’s claim of “very special circumstances” justifying the expansion, which would almost triple the size of the championship grounds.

The Club’s Defense

The AELTC maintains that the expansion is crucial to ensure that the Wimbledon grand slam remains the world’s premier tennis tournament. The club argues that it needs to increase its facilities and accommodate the growing demand from players and spectators. The proposed 10-storey show court and 38 grass courts would address these needs, according to the AELTC.

Local Opposition and Environmental Concerns

The plans have sparked outrage among local residents and environmental groups, who argue that Wimbledon Park should be preserved as open space. Over 14,000 people have signed a petition to “save Wimbledon Park,” and more than 2,000 letters of objection have been received by the councils. The removal of almost 300 trees to make way for the construction has also drawn criticism, with some calling it “corporate ecocide.”

The Fight to Protect Metropolitan Open Land

Wimbledon Park is designated as Grade II*-listed metropolitan open land, meaning that “very special circumstances” must be proven to justify any construction. Fleur Anderson, the Labour MP for Putney, emphasizes the importance of defending this precious green space and highlights the positive step taken by Wandsworth’s planning officers in recommending refusal.

A Surprising Recommendation

The AELTC expressed surprise at Wandsworth’s recommendation, particularly after the approval from Merton council. The club believes that the decision should be left to the planning applications committee and hopes for a different outcome on November 21st.


As the AELTC’s expansion plans face opposition from Wandsworth council, the future of Wimbledon Park hangs in the balance. The clash between the prestigious tennis club and local residents, along with environmental campaigners, highlights the complex challenges of balancing development and preservation. The decision made by the planning committee will not only shape the future of the Wimbledon Championships but also set a precedent for the protection of metropolitan open land. The outcome of this battle will be closely watched by tennis enthusiasts and conservationists alike.






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