New Vision For Wimbledon Park Includes A Lakeside Path

All England Club is open to views on its plans for former golf course land

Wimbledon Park Golf Club

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) is running a consultation on its vision for the land now used as Wimbledon Park Golf Club, which they primarily plan to use for new tennis courts.

Once there is no more golf on the course from January 2022, the AELTC plans to build a number of grass courts on the land suitable for use in the annual Championships as well as its qualifying events.

It says it will place the courts sensitively within the landscape of the Capability Brown-designed park and will make landscape improvements to enchance the land's conservation status.

The AELTC's initial consultation, which is now open for views on this link, says it will take six years to build the new grass courts and they will take another two years before they are suitable for Championships use.

In its consultation report it acknowledged that the Grade II* listed park and garden had been included in the 'Heritage at Risk' register for London since 2016, meaning its historical value is in danger of being lost.

But it says it will work with the other landowners of Wimbledon Park - Merton Council and The Wimbledon Club - to reverse the 'at risk' status.

It also says it plans to restore the historic alignment of Wimbledon Park lake, the centrepiece of the park designed by Capability Brown in the 1760s. As part of the improvements, it says it will provide better community access to the lake.

The Friends of Wimbledon Park (FOWP), a voluntary organisation working to protect the park, has had a long-term vision for a perimter path to allow people to walk all the way round the lake.

The AELTC's consultation document says their proposals could give increased access to the public, including a lakeside path.

It also says the lake could be richer in biodiversity through regular de-silting and planting on the lake edge. It acknowledges that Brown said the lake should be regularly de-silted, but this practice has been lost. The adds that the lake's culverts are too narrow to cope with today's rainfall which causes prolonged waterlogging of the golf course.

The Friends group has proposed a design to tackle the flooding issue which is inspired by Capability Brown involving the restoration of the lost eastern arm of the lake, a new outfall cascade to replace the waterfall and the watersports facilities being moved to the southern end of the stadium.

Merton council appointed a contractor to carry out dam safety works in December, with work expected to start in August and finish by January 2022, when there is a legal obligation for the dam to be safe.

The FOWP's recent Annual Report acknowledged their plans to create a cascade had been shown to be unviable, but said "on a brighter note" that Wimbledon Park Brook would be deculverted, which would create an additional park feature.

FOWP's vision for the park includes:

  • a perimeter path to allow the general public to walk all the way round the lake
  • a boardwalk for birdwatching
  • new wildlife habitats such as reedbeds
  • the watersports centre to be relocated and improved, restoring uninterrupted views across the lake.

AELTC Chairman Ian Hewitt said in the consultation document: "It has never been more important to demonstrate that Wimbledon has a meaningful role to play as a force for good, particularly locally, but also nationally and internationally.

"It is part of what makes us the pinnacle of our sport, putting this sentiment at the heart of our planning for the futre is one of my major objectives as Chairman, and the enhanced landholding provides a wonderful opportunity to do so."

Nick Steiner, FOWP Chairman, said once there is no more golf on the land, he hopes the AELTC, Merton Council and The Wimbledon Club, will work together to "improve things for nature and visitors".

In the FOWP's Annual Report he says examples are:

  • The blots on the landscape around the lake. These are, the sports hall, the tennis dome, the greenspaces depot, the watersports building and the boat store.
  • Proper management of Ashen Grove Wood (ancient woodland split between the public park and golf course).
  • Bringing back the water lilies.

You can read more about the AELTC's objectives for Wimbledon Park on this link to their Consultation Boards.

It says it will hold subsequent consultations in April and June before applying for planning permission to Merton and Wandsworth councils in July.

March 23, 2021