Wimbledon will push on with plans for huge expansion despite angry opposition

Wimbledon will plough on with the planning application for its biggest ever expansion, despite facing a barrage of hostility from locals at an open public meeting.

However, there could be a further delay with the possibility that the local councils concerned will not fully consider the application until after the May elections.

Senior All England Club officials were forced to defend the scheme at a meeting called by Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond on Wednesday night.


Wimbledon officials will push on with plans for an enormous expansion of the SW19 site despite opposition from local residents at an open public meeting


Residents and a raft of local organisations voiced fears about its impact, including the size of a new show court and the closure of a local main road during The Championships.

Prominent Wandsworth Conservative Salvatore Muras told All England Club Chairman Ian Hewitt and Chief Executive Sally Bolton: ‘People don’t see it as being a good neighbour. I would suggest that if you want to be seen as a good neighbour you start showing some respect to the local community.’

While emphasising that Wimbledon was ‘sensitive’ to local feelings and pointing to multiple community benefits from the project, Bolton indicated that there would be no change to plans which involve 38 new courts being built on a neighbouring golf course.

Hewitt reiterated that a major reason behind the development was that Wimbledon had fallen behind the other Slams in three specific areas: player practice facilities, its qualifying event and the stature of its third show court.

The expansion project will see 38 new courts built to bring Wimbledon qualifying ‘in house’

‘In each of these we are ranked worst among the Grand Slams, we must improve them,’ he said.

One resident accused Wimbledon of being ‘Alice In Wonderland’ if it thought that the building of a 28 metre high stadium would improve views across an acreage originally landscaped by Capability Brown.

A particular local concern is the closure of a road which goes through the expanded site. The explanation was given that putting a tunnel under it was not feasible due to the ‘scarring’ it would cause at either end.

There are also plans to build a new show court so Wimbledon can keep pace with other Slams

Wimbledon’s representatives pointed to the considerable upsides that will come with the scheme, including a new 9.4 hectare public park, increased biodiversity and the millions they will spend on de-silting Wimbledon Park’s historic lake.

A central aim of the tournament is to bring qualifying ‘in house’ from Roehampton, although this will not happen before 2029.

The meeting was held before a restricted audience of around 150, with more watching online. Local opposition is far from unanimous, it should be said, with plenty of locals more passively supportive.

Both Wandsworth and Merton Councils will consider the full planning application, but if this does not happen before late March it will likely not take place until the early Summer.