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Wimbledon residents are furious at the All England Tennis & Croquet Club’s £200million expansion plans. In a public meeting on Tuesday, at the St Barnabas Church in Earlsfield, residents voiced their anger and declared that they would stage a protest in an attempt to block Wimbledon’s “disruptive” “Disneyland” developments.
The plans include 38 new tennis courts and an 8,000-seater stadium on a neighbouring golf course. One resident accused AELTC of wanting to build a tennis “Disneyland” while others slammed club representatives for “lying” about the extent of the developments.
AELTC refused to turn up to the meeting, which was attended by 250 disgruntled residents but rejected the assertions made by their opposition. Chief executive of the All England Club Sally Bolton told the Telegraph: “Our planning application for the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project has been under consideration by the London boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth for more than two years.
“These proposals have been rightly and properly subject to a very high level of assessment and consultation both prior to and since their submission.
“We are proud of the substantial community benefits included within the application, which include year-round permanent access to 23 acres of beautiful new parkland available for the free use of the local community.
“To date, we have hosted 56 guided tours of the former golf course land and a further nine events at which local residents have had the opportunity to speak to members of the project team and learn more about the plans. We are pleased that more than 4,600 attendees have come along to one of our consultation events, with the overwhelming majority really excited about the plans and keen to see the community benefits delivered as soon as possible.”
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However, multiple residents as well as the two MPs for Putney and Wimbledon, Labour’s Fleur Anderson and Conservative Stephen Hammond, are adamantly against the plans. Anderson has called for AELTC to work towards developing their Roehampton site rather than building on the golf course which she says would bring “an industrial-scale development in our park”.
Meanwhile, Hammond says the development is “too big” and wants AELTC to reconsider their proposal before submitting it to Merton and Wandsworth Councils. An online petition “Save Wimbledon Park” has now amassed almost 12,500 signatures in opposition to the plans as residents insist they won’t go down without a fight.
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