Wimbledon’s ambitious and controversial expansion plans have suffered a blow after councillors were recommended to refuse planning permission on Monday.
Merton Council’s planning committee had previously agreed to the project but their counterparts at Wandsworth Council, whose boundaries also span the proposed site, have been advised to turn down the proposal.
The plans are for 38 grass tennis courts as well as an 8,000-seater showcourt, which have met with increasing objections from residents, environmental groups and even local MPs.
In a statement, it said: “We are surprised that planning officers at the London Borough of Wandsworth have recommended refusal of the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project, particularly after the London Borough of Merton resolved to approve the application following extensive analysis and debate both in their officers’ report and at the planning committee.
“We regret that Wandsworth’s officers have taken a different view but it is for councillors on the planning applications committee to make their own considered decision at the meeting at November 21.
“We firmly believe the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project will deliver substantial social, economic and environmental benefits including 23 acres of newly accessible green space alongside hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of pounds in economic benefits for our neighbours in Wandsworth, Merton and across London.”
After Wandsworth councillors meet on November 21 to vote on the plans and the planning officer’s recommendation, their decision and that of Merton Council would then be referred to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Greater London Authority.
Following the proposed refusal, Fleur Anderson, MP for Putney, Southfields and Roehampton, said: “I am delighted that Wandsworth Council planning officers have recommended that the AELTC proposals for Wimbledon Park be refused.
“Wimbledon Park is protected, Grade II listed Metropolitan Open Land. This means that ‘very special circumstances’ must be proved for it to be built on.
“Wandsworth Council planning officers have not found that these ‘very special circumstances’ exist and so have recommended the plans be refused. The campaign continues. Our precious green space must be defended. But this is a very positive step in the right direction.”