Our fight to save Wimbledon Park

 

Background

The plans from All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) would permanently concrete over a substantial amount of Metropolitan Open Land at Wimbledon Park, causing up to eight years of disruption, and result in the loss of hundreds of mature trees.

When the Council sold the freehold of the Wimbledon Golf Club site to AELTC in 1993 they gave public assurances that they would never build on the land, backed up with a legally-enforceable covenant in the sale agreement.

Labour-run Merton Council has failed to give either a clear or direct answer to the question on whether the Council will enforce the covenant and hold the AELTC to its promise to not build on the land.

By pressing ahead with these plans in spite of the significant opposition of local residents, and in flagrant disregard of its historic promises not to build on the land, the AELTC is showing complete contempt for the people of Wimbledon.

Sign our petition: https://www.mertonlibdems.org.uk/our-campaigns/aeltc-petition 

23/01/2024: Mayor of London’s office takes over Wimbledon expansion decision. There are fears this is just to allow the Wandsworth planning decision to be reversed.

22/11/2023: Wimbledon tennis’ expansion plans - for the part of the site in Wandsworth - are rejected by Wandsworth Council.

15/11/2023: Following the planning decision, an extraordinary meeting of Merton Council called by Liberal Democrat councillors about the covenants agreed between the Council and the AELTC when the freehold of the Wimbledon Park Golf course site was sold to the AELTC in 1993. Labour councillors once again block proposals to enforce the covenants.

06/11/2023: The Wimbledon Society responds to Merton’s planning decision.

27/10/2023: The AELTC has had its planning permission to build a new 8,000 seater stadium, 38 more competition tennis courts and 10 additional buildings on part of Wimbledon Park approved by Merton Council - with a 6-4 vote. Wimbledon Park’s Liberal Democrat councillors spoke against the application. You can read Cllr Paul Kohler’s update here

08/10/2023: The decision to limit discussion on the AELTC's plan to concrete over parts of Wimbledon Park has been criticised by Wimbledon's Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Cllr Paul Kohler.

17/08/2023 Cllr Paul Kohler chairs meeting he arranges between Leigh Day, the specialist public law solicitors who acted for him in his successful Judicial Review against the Mayor of London that stopped the closure of Wimbledon Police Station, and a representative of the Save Wimbledon Park group to discuss the possibility of launching a judicial review in wake of recent case law.

01/02/2023: Wimbledon Park’s Lib Dem councillors once again call on Council bosses to take action to enforce historic legal promises. The request is voted down by Labour councillors.

13/07/2022: Cllr Paul Kohler quizzes the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive about whether the Council intends to enforce the AELTC’s legally binding promise not to build on Wimbledon Park. Unfortunately, they both refrained from giving a substantive answer, citing the upcoming planning application, even though their legal advice is that the promise is not relevant to the deliberations of the planning committee.

06/07/2022: Labour Council bosses’ lukewarm response to the petition demanding that Merton Council enforce the legal covenants agreed to by AELTC and calling on both AELTC and Merton Council to keep their promises to the people of Wimbledon.

18/06/2022: The Telegraph reports “inside the bitter battle between furious locals and Big Tennis”.

02/02/2022: Local news website, SWLondoner reports that “Lib Dems set to force showdown vote on All England Club development”. The Guardian reports that Labour councillors ‘water down’ the commitment to respect historic promises.

23/12/2021: Following residents’ concerns about the AELTC’s controversial plans to build a new 10 storey 8,000 seater stadium, 38 more competition tennis courts and 10 additional buildings on part of Wimbledon Park, Cllr Paul Kohler asked Council bosses to reassure residents that they would use their legal right to block the development, whether the recent planning application is successful or not.

19/11/2021: More than 1,000 representations were made objecting to the planning application to expand Wimbledon.

01/01/2022: According to The GuardianLocal residents, environmental and heritage groups are preparing to launch a public relations and legal salvo against Wimbledon’s plans to develop historic Capability Brown parkland into 39 new tennis courts for the championships”.

23/09/1993:  The Labour leader of the Council, Cllr Colman, was quoted in the Wimbledon Borough News, that “this council is resolute that the land will be retained as open space. All England has bought the land knowing this is our policy and is aware that we would not allow development of the site.

14/07/1993:  Comments made by Cllr Tony Colman, the Labour leader of Merton Council, recorded in the minutes of Merton’s Ordinary Council Meeting: “I am totally committed to ensuring this area remains part of Merton’s green space. It is designated as Metropolitan Open Land. We are taking the necessary steps to make the space a conservation area. We shall be using tree preservation orders throughout the area. We are placing covenants on the sale of the freehold to prevent any owner of the land being able to develop it with houses or any other undesirable building development. Councillors, I believe that shows our commitment. Now it is enshrined forever in Council minutes. It will show future Councils and future residents that when we decided to sell this land, we did so ensuring it would be kept as open space and we did so determined that the next owner and any future owner would be denied forever the opportunity to use this space for any development.

27/04/1993: The minutes of Merton’s Policy & Resources Committee 27 April 1993 where the Chair of the Administration & Land Sub-Committee stated he had included covenants to protect the land from development "ensure there is no misunderstanding or possible misinterpretation”.