Locals in legal row with Wimbledon over new courts and stadium

Courts of law: Locals in legal row with Wimbledon over plans to build 39 new playing surfaces and 8,000-seat stadium as part of major expansion

  • The All England Club wants to build 39 courts and a stadium, on 73 acres of land
  • The land is currently being used by neighbouring Wimbledon Park golf course
  • Wimbledon Park Golf Club members were paid £80,000 each to quit the club
  • A covenant on the land could result with the developers mired in a legal battle 

Wimbledon is bracing for a legal challenge from locals over plans for the biggest expansion in the club’s history.

The All England Club wants to build 39 grass courts, including an 8,000-seat stadium, on the 73 acres currently occupied by Wimbledon Park golf course.

The debate centres on a covenant placed on the land when it was sold to Wimbledon in 1993. This stated that it would not be built on.

The lease on the land – which was being used by the golf club – was not due to expire until 2041.

750 members like Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly – were paid more than £80,000 each to quit the course three years ago.

The move could see qualifiers for Wimbledon play in-house rather than in Roehampton as they do currently

But three years ago the 750 members of the golf club – which included TV stars Piers Morgan, Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly – were paid more than £80,000 each to quit the course.

And now the tennis club wants to push ahead with its expansion on the land, saying the covenant does not disallow its plans.

The club wants to bring the qualifying event for the annual Championships ‘in house’ from its current venue two miles away in Roehampton.

However, residents’ groups believe there may be grounds for a legal challenge over the covenant.

More than 1,200 objections have been lodged with local councils by individuals or representative bodies.

A spokesman for Merton Council said: ‘The All England Lawn Tennis Club’s application is currently under assessment and it will likely be decided by the planning committee.’

Heritage group the Wimbledon Society has called for the matter to be referred to the Secretary of State.

Even if planning permission is granted the covenant could lead to a separate legal challenge.

A Wimbledon spokesman said: ‘We are confident that our proposals to enhance the land for the benefit of the Championships and more widely for the general public… are consistent with our commitment to the local area.’

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