Application No 2021/3609 /

TCBS Objections to AELTC Plans & Proposals for Wimbledon Park Golf Course

Dear Mr Hayter

Please find enclosed our circular letter below to our Members which was sent out yesterday, in connection with the Plans & Proposals by the Aeltc for the golf course in Wimbledon Park – which we are against, as we set out in the narratives and plans in our Circular below, sent to our Members for their information.

For the reasons we set out in our Circular, the Application by The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club Limited under the above Application No – 2021/3609, should be refused.

Your sincerely

Chris Baker

Dear Capability Brown Society Member

Many of you will be aware that the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) have lodged a planning application with both the London Boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth to build 38 new grass tennis courts and an 8,000 seater fully roofed, new “Show Court” on the former Wimbledon Park Golf Course, which forms a part of the remnants of Capability Brown’s historic Wimbledon Park – which he created and designed between 1765 and 1783 for the First Earl Spencer

Aeltc’s ‘hubristic’ ambition is to aggrandise, consolidate and expand their Lawn Tennis Championships on part of the parkland next to their main site in Wimbledon and bring their Qualifying Tournament from Roehampton onto the golf course – and provide many new practice courts for the Championship participants. It’s a commercial venture for AELTC estimated to generate £53million of revenue annually, locally – (mostly for the Club’s benefit by selling an additional 8,000 tickets a day, for three weeks during an extended Tennis Championships period) – but presented by AELTC as being essential to secure the primacy of the only Grand Slam tennis tournament played on grass.

It’s a very complex planning application with over 100 full length documents submitted, and with an intrusive construction period involving the golf course and the surrounding area in Church Road and other local roads –

eg Marryat, Victoria and Bathgate Roads, near to the Park – which would last 8 years until 2030.

Public responses to Merton and Wandsworth are requested by the end of September but may be considered up to determination by their respective Planning Committees, likely sometime before Christmas. The online links to make comments are available at:

  • – Application: 21/P2900
  • – Application: 2021/3609

Wimbledon Park is in the Metropolitan Green Belt and registered ‘at risk’ by Historic England. It is an Historic England Listed grade II* Park & Garden, of national significance and importance, with the full parkland in three ownerships. AELTC own the golf course, Merton the central lake and its entire periphery as well as the public park, and The Wimbledon Club (TWC), a very long-established private members’ sports club, is located in the Park, adjacent to the golf course. In AELTC’s application TWC land is included in AELTC’s application site, including its private driveway into The Wimbledon Club – over which AELTC does not have an essential right of way for its use, unless this is separately negotiated and agreed with TWC.

AELTC have also included Merton’s ownership of the lake and its periphery in their application, but excluded the public park. At the time of AELTC’s purchase of the golf course land from Merton in 1993, Merton Council & AELTC signed a covenant restricting future development on the golf course – and to provide a public walkway on their land around the lake, were golf to cease, in a Transfer deed that is lodged with the Land Registry.

By including the Covenant in the Transfer Deed, Merton Borough Council became the effective ‘Public Trustee’ in protecting this open landscape on the golf course and of the public’s right to enjoy it.

In their complex application AELTC have proposed the following significant features, that adversely impact on the Park’s historic landscape:

  • An 8,000 seater, fully roofed, new Show Court, 25.75m high and approximately 104m long by 89m wide. (Two thirds the size of the existing No 1 Court on AELTC’s site in Church Road, Wimbledon).This is to be built on the golf course on land very close to Church Road (which was Capability Brown’s historic Estate drive) and ‘will wipe-out historic vistas and view lines across the fairway on the golf course, from Wimbledon Park Road to St Mary’s Church, at the head of the Valley, leading down to Wimbledon Park Lake.
  • 38 new grass courts requiring complete regrading and re-soiling of the landscape that will cause destruction of the Capability Brown contouring of the Parkland – except where a limited number of ancient trees will be protected besides remove much of the high value historic parkland soil. When in use during the spring & summer months every year these new courts, which will be built on platforms because of the high-water table in the Park, will require 2.4m high demountable solid green canopy fencing and bubble covers during wet weather over every one of the new 38 grass courts to be built. Several courts are very close to the lake side where they will be visually very intrusive.
  • A new 600m long 3m wide boardwalk with handrails within the lake, completely inappropriate to the Brownian tradition and character of the lakeshore which will destroy the shoreline of Capability Brown lake. This is proposed by AELTC, to avoid the obligation under the Deed of Transfer to AELTC, in 1993, to provide a public walkway on its land around the lake. Public access will be prohibited in critical spring and summer months during the Championships. A boardwalk will also adversely impact on the well-used fishing areas at the lakeside, limiting space for casting.
  • About 9.4km of new sinuous pathways connecting the proposed new grass tennis courts, allowing spectator and player access. This is inappropriate and will destroy Brown’s pastural landscape tradition in the Heritage Park.
  • An offer for desilting the lake which is not clearly defined or resolved but which could involve 16% of the lake area being filled with repositioned silt to form very shallow water reed beds and which dramatically changes the profile of the Brownian lake. This is shown on the formal drawings that would become a condition of the approval.
    Resoiling much of the heritage parkland with removal of good existing topsoil for no good reason and replacing with soils inappropriate to the park rather than better managing the existing material and grassland habitats.
  • Seven new prominent maintenance hubs for year-round work on the golf course, screened by 3m high panel fencing. This compromises the openness of the protected land.
  • A central maintenance depot built into the hillside with a green roof, but in an exceptionally prominent location and with no public access. Public access here would allow the historic vista from Wimbledon Park Road, (near to where the old Marlborough Manor House stood), down to the Lake to be appreciated within the park.
  • Two player hub buildings (to service 38 new grass tennis courts) whose design details have been withheld other than location and height.


The physical benefits offered by AELTC include the following:

  • A welcome southern extension of the lake to its historic limit but which would be visually interrupted by the new boardwalk that obstructs Capability Brown’s critical view lines.
  • De-culverting of two historic streams which is to be welcomed, but which appears to be without essential silt traps to protect further deposits reaching the lake.
  • One new public park covering 9.4ha (30%of the application site that is on land) which is to be welcomed but with no park facilities for the public eg toilets or a children’s play area – and granting “permissive access” only to local residents and Visitors, access that AELTC can withdraw at any time, rather than being formally handed over to a Community Trust for safe keeping. This would avoid any further development by AELTC of the golf course land (which they have always denied), in the future, in this area.

AELTC have, in effect, ‘cherry picked land’ that serves their best purpose for their commercial venture – at the expense of considering the entire registered parkland in their proposals and addressing many of the issues that have caused the parkland to be placed at risk.

Despite professing to be good stewards and guardians of the Park’s historic landscape and promoting and enhancing the heritage of the parkland, AELTC have not been receptive to proper public consultations and have remained intransigent whilst pursuing their ‘hubristic’ ambitions. Full proposals for the golf course were only released in the spring of 2021 and three public consultation presentations were made through the summer, but no significant changes were made to their proposals, except the reluctant offer of a “permissive access” park.

The AELTC application has required a formal Environmental Impact Assessment to be submitted and this has been provided. Under these regulations AELTC are obliged to consider “reasonable alternatives” to their proposals and evaluate these by way of presenting reasons for their submission. The only “reasonable alternatives” they have set out in any detail are for relocating the proposed new Tennis Show Court within their existing main site in Church Road – on two locations next to the application site, but they have not reconfigured the design significantly to reflect these locations, which were subsequently rejected .

Nor have they considered any options where the entire heritage park is considered in the application and which could have included a land swap with the Wimbledon Club, on whose land, new tennis courts would be better concentrated with reduced visual impact, and where new built proposals could be better compensated by the removal of inappropriate facilities.

They have not even considered the viability, with wider economic and tennis benefits, of investing and hosting the ‘Wimbledon’ Qualifying Tournament elsewhere in the UK, perhaps rotating this amongst other cities on an annual basis, thus making the Championships a more National attraction; this might better reflect the government’s “levelling up” agenda.

AELTC, by considering these options, could reduce the need for such extensive development within Wimbledon Park, reduce congestion within the local area and almost definitely have the benefit of shortening the duration of the extraordinarily long proposed construction period of 8 years until 2030.


In Summary –

Wimbledon Park is one of the very few Capability Brown landscapes located entirely within an urban area and it has local, regional and international importance in all the sports that it supports, not just tennis.

Wimbledon Park should be amongst the best, most versatile and most charismatic and attractive Parks in London with its Capability Brown Lake (fully open to the Public) at the centre of the park, whereas the Lake is currently in a perilous state of decline, through lack of investment and co-ordination between landowners.

The Society believes the AELTC’s proposals miss an opportunity to be more sensitive and ambitious in providing alternative facilities for Visitors to the Park – and will be immensely damaging to the Landscape within the Park. The benefits to AELTC could equally be achieved were they to consider a better thought-out and less ‘selfish’ strategic vision which has focused too greatly on their own commercial interests.

The Capability Brown Society is still in its infancy and was established to promote and help conserve historic landscapes. The Landscape Institute and many others joined together in a national Capability Brown Festival, to celebrate the 300 year anniversary of Brown’s birth in 2016, and the Society has continued to promote his legacy subsequently.

The Society seeks to continue to do this and is very grateful for its growing membership. The threat to Wimbledon Park therefore comes at a challenging time for a young Society and we urge members to oppose AELTC’s application.

AELTC Plans & Proposals – the Next Step –

The Society will be making a full submission regarding AELTC’s plans & proposals for the golf course in Wimbledon Park, to Merton & Wandsworth Borough Councils before the close of the Public Consultation on 30th September and will post all our documents, plans etc on our Website –– very soon after this date.

In the meantime, we attach two plans and two photographs which illustrate the Society’s concern regarding the amount of ground levelling work needed, to implement AELTC’s plans & proposals over a period of 8 years until 2030, for the golf course in Wimbledon Park.

Plan A – showing the proposed location of a new 8,000 seater, fully roofed, tennis show court, 38 new tennis grass courts proposed to be built on platforms on the golf course, the new 600 metre boardwalk, as well as the reduced number of retained trees and new trees to be planted on the golf course.

Plan B – the Primary Critical Composed Vistas / View lines in the Brownian Landscape on Wimbledon Park golf course, showing how these Views are impacted by the proposed development

We also include in the Appendix, two illustrative photographs of how the Golf Course land might look, whilst construction progresses – for a period of 8 years until 2030.

In our opinion, the Directors of The All England Club Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club appear to have forgotten about what makes ‘Wimbledon & its Championships’ special and unique. They will ruin this if they continue with their ill-thought out proposals, which are designed primarily for their own advantage. There are few benefits to their neighbours or to the many local residents who live around Wimbledon Park.

If you agree with this, please let us know – and make your voice heard, with comments to Merton & Wandsworth Borough Councils, contactable at:-


Proposed General Site Arrangement

All Hard Landscape Proposed By AELTC
Historic Views and AELTC Plans & Proposals
Earthworks 1
Earthworks 2

With kind regards

Chris Baker

The Capability Brown Society
M – 07815-183951 / e –