Wimbledon home ground expansion despite din



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AELTC to be expanded Image: Wimbledon Centre Court, JCtennis.com, CC BY-SA 2.0

The All England Club has won the backing of the Councilors to expand site in London SW19 (UK).

‘The Guardian’ stated that controversial plans to expand the All England Club’s grounds, which host the Wimbledon Championships, have been approved by the local Council leaders.

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), also known as the All England Club, based at Church Road, Wimbledon, London, England (UK), is a private members’ club. It is best known as the venue for the Wimbledon Championships, the only Grand Slam tennis event still held on grass.

The SW19 is a postal code in London that covers the Wimbledon district.

The Merton Council’s Development and Planning Application Committee voted recently to approve the application to expand the tennis complex.

‘The Guardian’ further stated that a spokesperson for the South-West London borough said in a statement, “After considering the officer’s report, relevant submissions and the relevant planning framework, the independent planning committee, made up of Councilors from all parties, voted to approve the application made by the All England Lawn Tennis Ground (AELTG) for expansion of its site at Wimbledon.”

The meeting in South London, which lasted more than four hours, was told that the Merton Council had received over 2,000 letters of objection – with claims that designs for the new show court and 38 other grass courts were in breach of a covenant that prevents building on the Grade II* listed parkland.

Stephen Hammond, the Conservative MP for Wimbledon, said he wanted to see a new application that would benefit the AELTC and the community and described the current proposals as “inappropriate” due to planned building on the park.

A representative of the Save Wimbledon Park Group had told the meeting that hundreds of trees will be felled as a result of the proposals and called it an “aggressive inappropriate commercial development”. The AELTC said new trees would be planted.

Sally Bolton, head honcho of AELTC, told the meeting their vision would deliver “one of the biggest sporting transformations for London since the 2012 Olympics”. She warned there was a significant risk of SW19 falling behind other Grand Slams as it was the only one to host the qualifying event at a different venue, in Roehampton. She also cited increased tourism and more jobs as other benefits to the local economy.

The Roehampton Club is a private members’ sports club in Southwest London, England (UK). It is set in 100 acres of parkland, close to the Richmond Park.

The Richmond Park Golf Course, a public, daily fee golf course comprising two 18-hole courses, is located in Richmond Park in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and is home to the Richmond Park Golf Club, Putney Park Golf Club and White Lodge Golf Club.

The All England Club has long had its sights on expanding on to the golf course. Growth and modernization, its executives say, is the only way to keep the world’s oldest and most prestigious championship ahead of its Grand Slam rivals.

The Championships, commonly known simply as Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is regarded by many as the most prestigious. Its Grand Slam rivals are the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open.

The approved plan will mean the estate almost triples in size, with more grass courts and higher crowd capacity. The club will also be able to build more money-spinning corporate hospitality facilities on its existing land.

By comparison, the US Open, in New York, spent £465m on its second show court, the Louis Armstrong – now a 14,061-seat venue, in addition to the Championship’s main Arthur Ashe Stadium, which has 22,547 seats, 90 luxury corporate suites, five restaurants, and a two-story players’ lounge. Wimbledon’s centre court has 14,979 seats and no corporate boxes.

The US Open Tennis Championships, commonly called the US Open, is a hard court tennis tournament held annually in Queens, New York. Since 1987, the US Open has been chronologically the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of the year.

The Louis Armstrong Stadium is a 14,000-seat tennis stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, one of the venues of the US Open. It opened for the 2018 US Open as a replacement for the 1978 stadium of the same name.

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is a stadium complex within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York City, United States.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium is a tennis arena at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York City. Part of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, it is the main stadium of the US Open tennis tournament and has a capacity of 23,771, making it the largest tennis stadium in the world.

The plans include a 95-meter long, 28-meter high, 8,000-seat ‘Parkland show court’ on the land designed by the landscape architect Capability Brown for the first Earl Spencer in 1768, as well as 38 ground courts, several ancillary buildings and 9.4 km of roads and paths on the protected land.

When it bought the freehold of the golf course from the Merton Borough Council for £5.2m in 1993, the All England Club agreed to a legal covenant “preventing the use of the land otherwise than for leisure or recreation purposes or as an open space”.

The club rented the land to the Wimbledon Park Golf Club on a lease due to expire in 2041. However, eager to expand the Championships and accommodate preliminary matches on site, the tennis club offered the golf club members £65m to buy out the lease and expand its footprint.

The Golf Club members, who included TV presenters Piers Morgan, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, and the former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell, voted in favor of the deal in 2018 and each collected a £85,000 windfall.

It promised campaigners that the show court would be “a world-class building matching the beauty of its surroundings and paying tribute to the site’s rich history” and said it would enhance its “tennis in an English garden” image.

But the Liberal Democrat Councilors proposed a motion last year that would have required the Council to “enforce” the covenants and prevent the stadium from being built. The motion was supported by the Conservative Councilors.

However, the Labour members, who hold the majority on the Council, amended the motion to state that the covenants “need to be respected” rather than enforced.

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