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Design & Development

AELTC revises Wimbledon Park Project with extra parkland

Images: AELTC

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has committed to providing additional public parkland as part of its contentious Wimbledon Park Project, a scheme it believes will deliver one of the greatest sporting transformations for London since the 2012 Olympic Games.

The AELTC has revealed plans to create four acres of new public parkland as part of its proposals to transform the former Wimbledon Park Golf Course. The enhancement to the proposals comes following consultation with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and an extensive public consultation period, which has seen more than 7,000 people attend one of the Club’s events since the planning applications were submitted in 2021.

The proposed new parkland will be located at the northern entrance to the site and would be adjacent to the entrance to the existing Wimbledon Park, owned and operated by Merton Council.

This northern parkland will complement the 23-acre parkland already proposed in the southern part of the site. This will mean that, subject to planning permission being granted, there will be more than 27-acres of the former private members’ golf course open to the public to use as part of the Wimbledon Park Project.

The AELTC said the proposed northern parkland will be accessible year-round, outside of the Qualifying Competition and The Championships. The intention is that the new parkland will greatly enhance the experience of visitors entering Wimbledon Park from Wimbledon Park Road.

The northern parkland will include new seating set within grasslands, areas of wildflower meadow, tree and woodland planting, and a tranquil pond. The Club said there will also be the opportunity to host small events – such as farmers markets and exhibition stall-type activities, as well as leisure activities such as yoga and fitness classes. During the Qualifying Competition and The Championships, the northern parkland will be the gateway into the event for visitors approaching from Southfields.

The All England Club also proposes to enhance some of the community facilities in Wimbledon Park. Subject to planning permission being granted, the development will unlock a state-of-the-art children’s playground, new public toilet facilities, extensive new planting and an upgrade to the Watersports and Outdoor Centre, as well as new pathway links to both the northern and southern parklands.

Deborah Jevans, chair of the All England Club, said: “I am delighted that, following the many thousands of conversations we have had with local people about our plans, and working with the Greater London Authority, we are now able to propose even more green space for Londoners to enjoy, on land that has been inaccessible to the public for more than 100 years.

“Our overarching plans to transform the former Wimbledon Park Golf Course will deliver one of the greatest sporting transformations for London since the 2012 Olympics. We continue to be committed to delivering significant social and environmental improvements, as well as creating hundreds of jobs and generating millions of pounds in economic benefits.”

Economic impact

Alongside yesterday’s (Thursday’s) announcement, the All England Club has outlined that the projected economic boost to London from The Championships will exceed £300m (€348.7m/$375.8m), both through direct and indirect impacts, once the project is completed. This is alongside the creation of more than 250 new jobs for The Championships, as well as many hundreds of jobs throughout the project’s construction phase.

New CGI images of the development have also been made available with a visualisation of the newly proposed northern parkland, as well as new views of the Parkland Show Court.

In January it was revealed that Deputy Mayor of London, Jules Pipe, had taken control of the Wimbledon Park Project, with a full planning hearing set to be held. The decision was taken after Mayor Sadiq Khan recused himself from the process due to publicly backing the project back in 2021.

The AELTC in November maintained that its Wimbledon Park Project offers “significant social, economic and environmental improvements” after the plans were rejected by Wandsworth Council, leading to the referral to the GLA.

The Council’s planning committee voted 7-0 against the plans after officers earlier recommended their rejection, concluding that there were no “very special circumstances” that would outweigh the harm to Metropolitan Open Land, with Wimbledon Park having been first designed by landscape architect Capability Brown in the 18th century.

The AELTC had cleared the first major hurdle for its Wimbledon Park project in October after it received planning approval from Merton Council. The AELTC in June 2021 revealed details of a ‘New Park for London’ concept while also providing an update on its proposed 8,000-seat show court. The latest update came after the AELTC in April outlined plans for the 8,000-seat show court as part of an expansion of the Wimbledon grounds.

The AELTC wants to build the stadium on land it purchased from Wimbledon Park Golf Club for £65m in 2018 and it had been hoped the court will be ready for play by 2030. The ‘New Park for London’ concept aims to create London’s “newest publicly accessible park”.

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.

Importantly, the plans also include proposals for 38 new courts – a move that would allow qualifying events to be held on-site, bringing Wimbledon in-line with its three fellow grand slam tournaments.

However, the project as a whole has provoked strong opposition from local politicians, residents and environmentalists. The GLA yesterday opened a 30-day consultation on the latest amendments to the scheme’s design as it continues its detailed examination of the proposals.

The AELTC said it “looks forward” to confirmation of a date for a public hearing on its applications in the coming months.