AELTC unveils ‘Park for London’ concept

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), organiser of the Wimbledon Championships, has revealed details of a ‘New Park for London’ concept while also providing an update on its proposed 8,000-seat show court.

The AELTC yesterday (Wednesday) shared the third phase of the public consultation for its wide-ranging Wimbledon Park Project, which it aims to submit a planning application for towards the end of July.

The latest update comes after the AELTC in April outlined plans for a new 8,000-seat show court as part of an expansion of the Wimbledon grounds. The AELTC wants to build the arena on land it purchased from Wimbledon Park Golf Club for £65m (€76m/$90.6m) in 2018 and it is hoped the court will be ready for play by 2030.

As well as providing an update on plans for the new show court (pictured), the AELTC yesterday unveiled its ‘New Park for London’ concept, which it claims will create London’s “newest publicly accessible park”.

The space will open up 9.4 hectares of parkland for locals, with AELTC stating that the area will provide local residents and visitors with access to “high quality green space and parkland”. The park would include a new accessible east-west route connecting into the existing public park and a new circular route around Wimbledon Park Lake.

After listening to feedback, AELTC is proposing to open the southern parkland section of the estate to the public. The park would open on a similar basis to that of the public park year-round and would serve as the AELTC’s southern arrival entrance during Wimbledon.

The AELTC’s plans for the new show court, meanwhile, centre on a tree-like structure and have been conceived to tie in with the surrounding landscape. The court would be located outside of the members’ club and would be open for year-round activities such as smaller tournaments, events and school visits.

The AELTC said the show court would be an “uncomplicated” building and would be informed directly by the geometry of the seating bowl. It would feature 8,000 seats and more wheelchair positions than Wimbledon’s other stadiums can accommodate.

The building will be serviced from the basement level, meaning that no visible ‘back’ to the venue will be required, creating an “open and active” façade.

The AELTC has been carrying out public consultations on the Wimbledon Park Project since March and is set to submit a planning application next month. The earliest construction start on the north part of the golf course is 2022, with construction on the south part to begin no earlier than 2023.

Work on the remodelling of the grounds would then begin in 2024, with a new qualifying venue scheduled for completion by 2026. It is estimated that Wimbledon Park will be open to the public by 2028 before the new show court is completed two years later.

Sally Bolton, chief executive of the AELTC, said: “With the assistance of our project team, comprised of world-class masterplanners, landscape architects and engineers, we have undertaken extensive research into the landscape’s history, radar surveyed tree roots, collected genetic tree material, and measured silt in the lake.

“We have taken this knowledge and understanding forwards into our proposals in order to fulfil our objectives to deliver both the greatest tennis event in the world for all our stakeholders, and to give back to our community, and your views have been crucial in helping us adjust elements where we can. Where we cannot, it is because the proposed elements are fundamental to our future.

“This consultation outlines our final plans in detail, and also provides responses to the main themes of your comments, dwelling most particularly on what we aim to provide in terms of community benefit through the unveiling of a new park with free public access; our approach to tree management and managing disruption, our calculations on the number of courts, and also our ongoing dialogue with Merton and the Wimbledon Club on their landholdings within Wimbledon Park.”

The AELTC confirmed yesterday that the semi-finals and finals of this year’s Championships will go ahead at full capacity, with all attendees required to display COVID-19 certification.

The tournament has been approved to take place as a pilot event in the third phase of the UK Government’s Events Research Programme, with crowds of at least 50% capacity from the opening day on June 28 before this rises to 100% from the semi-finals.

Image: AELTC/Wimbledon