United Kingdom

You cannot be serious! Fury at Wimbledon bosses' bid to shut local road

Wimbledon's organisers are facing growing anger from locals over plans to close a road during the tournament.

The proposal is part of a scheme to expand the competition site by building an 8,000-seat arena and 38 smaller courts on a golf course across the road.

A third public consultation on the scheme is under way. The All England Lawn Tennis Club will then submit a formal planning application in July.

The club says that, as a key part of the project, Church Road – the main road between Wimbledon Village and the neighbouring suburb of Southfields – should be closed for three weeks each year ‘to enable the two halves of the site to become one for the Championships period’.

Locals in south-west London face a congested diversion route at least half a mile longer.

The proposal is part of a scheme to expand the competition site by building an 8,000-seat arena and 38 smaller courts on a golf course across the road

But the All England Club says the road closure has been ‘highly recommended from a safety and security perspective’ by the Metropolitan Police, and ‘will also have a positive impact on air quality’.

The club proposes resurfacing the road with decorative paving stones and installing roadside trees and landscaping.

Church Road is to be temporarily closed during this year’s event, starting on June 28.

Opposition to the closure has been highlighted by Tory members of Wandsworth Council, which covers a neighbouring residential area. The application will be decided by Merton Council. Leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, said: ‘The All England Club need to think of alternatives and listen to the concerns of residents. As it stands, I simply cannot support the scheme.’

The All England Club says the road closure has been ‘highly recommended from a safety and security perspective’ by the Metropolitan Police, and ‘will also have a positive impact on air quality’ (file image)

The expansion involves the neighbouring Wimbledon Park Golf Club, purchased in 2018 for £65million. Not all locals are opposed to the plan but many are unhappy at the prospect of traffic disruption.

In a consultation document, the club said: ‘We appreciate the concern about lack of access for local residents and the temporary road closure in 2021 will enable us to put in place the correct reactive measures to ensure we are adapting to your needs as much as possible.’

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