Tennis courts

Wimbledon locals oppose new tennis courts

Residents have submitted more than a hundred objections to plans to redevelop the Wimbledon Park golf course into new tennis courts.

The proposal was submitted by All England Lawn Tennis Ground, which owns the courts used for the world famous Wimbledon tennis championships.

A total of 185 objection comments have been posted on the Wandsworth Council website at the time of writing, with more submitted to Merton Council.

The prestigious Wimbledon Championships are the oldest tennis tournament in the world.

Currently the main events take place on Church Road opposite Wimbledon Park, but the qualifying event takes place in Roehampton.

Plans for the 39.7-hectare site include the construction of 38 additional grass tennis courts and an 8,000-seater show court in parkland.

PREVIEW: The proposed showcourt Credit: All England Lawn Tennis Club

The new facilities would be used to relocate the qualifying rounds to Wimbledon, extending what residents say is an annual period of increased traffic and bustle.

Some also believe that the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) doesn’t really need extra courts.

Stuart Mathieson, 62, encourages residents to voice their objections to advice.

Mathieson said: ‘Residents feel this is totally inappropriate. Everywhere you looked there was a tennis court, with a few trees here and there. So really a desecration of the earth.

The proposal also includes a walk around and through Lake Wimbledon Park and the opening of a section of the park to the public.

Virtual image of an aerial view of the planned facilities.
AERIAL VIEW: What the site will look like if plans come to fruition. Credit: All England Lawn Tennis Club

However, the AELTC says its redevelopment plans will benefit the community.

Ian Hewitt, President of the AELTC, said in a statement: “We respect heritage. We assume our responsibility to society.

“This is a unique and exciting opportunity to strengthen Wimbledon’s position as the world’s premier tennis tournament, to maintain the beneficial social and economic impact for Merton, Wandsworth, London and even the UK by general, and to provide meaningful benefits to the local community throughout the year, all set in a beautiful and historic landscape.”

In a written objection to Wandsworth Council, Joseph Gurney said: ‘The volume of construction is too great for such green space, 38 courts is pure greed – huge amounts of infrastructure and cement being poured for little reasons – where previously there was more grass and biodiversity.

‘Another London green space that is being sacrificed – but this one doesn’t even provide accommodation.’

There are currently only five comments supporting the application on the Wandsworth Council website.

The AELTC claims that the environmental impact of the redevelopment will be limited.

“The project also provides an opportunity for significant improvement in biodiversity, wildlife and other sustainability measures in the park,” the AELTC said in a statement.

When consulted by Merton Council to assess the plans, the Environment Agency said the application posed a low environmental risk.

Mathieson has also launched two petitions aimed at councils and the AELTC seeking to address residents’ concerns about the disruptions experienced at Championships over the past few years.

The petitions relate to the use of parts of Wimbledon Park as car parking and the closure of Church Road for event traffic.

The AELTC said it was aiming to reduce car journeys to and from the championships and is studying the possibility of removing parking.

“We will take into account any comments we receive from members of the public through the statutory consultation process when our planning committee meets to consider its decision,” a Wandsworth Council spokesperson said.

Merton’s counsel has been approached for comment.

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