AELTC Plans To Fell Wimbledon Park Trees Are Turned Down

All England Club wanted to cut down 18 trees on former golf course land

Trees running alongside the former fairways of Wimbledon Park Golf Club
Trees running alongside the former fairways of Wimbledon Park Golf Club

January 26, 2023

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has been refused permission to fell 18 trees running alongside the fairways of the former Wimbledon Park Golf Club.

It asked for planning permission for the tree work in advance of the decision on its controversial expansion application across 67 hectares, including an 8,000-seat show court, between Wimbledon and Wandsworth.

The AELTC said in its application to fell the trees that the recent closure of the golf course has given it chance to assume full control of tree management.

It asked to remove "low value trees" to "benefit the growth of better trees". It also wanted to remove some areas of scrub growth.

The application added: "Over the years, scrub growth has become established in some locations around the lake. The Club is aware of the values to wildlife of scrub and wishes to encourage this.

"However, in some locations the value of the landscape as created by Lancelot Brown in the 18th century is becoming obscured. As part of this tree works application, it is proposed that some discreet areas of scrub growth will be removed before the 2023 bird nesting season begins."

But Dr Dave Dawson, environmental scientist and part of the 'Save Wimbledon Park' campaign, was one of those who made his objections to Merton Council. He said: "This is not a routine application, but one made in an area where there is considerable environmental and heritage value and where there is a history of approvals without adequate documentation being provided."

He pointed out that the 18 trees proposed for removal ranged in age from 15 to 40 years and there was no proposal to replace them elsewhere. Even if there was, it would take decades of growth to replace the propose losses.

He added: "The areas of 'scrub' proposed for removal are said to include regenerating native wetland trees (alder and willow) and other species that grow in both wet and dry woodland. However, these areas have several other wetland species not specified in the application, suggesting that the survey was inadequate and that valuable wet woodland will be compromised. It is not appropriate to grant permission for felling young trees in the absence of adequate survey and consideration of National Priority Habitat."

Merton Council's Tree Officer Rose Stepanek shared his views, and the scheme has recently been turned down.

Her grounds included:

  • The proposed work will reduce the amount of tree canopy coverage in the park.
  • The tree work is not considered to be necessary as compared to removal of trees on grounds of being dead or dangerous.
  • The proposed work will be detrimental to the setting of the landscape.
  • The proposed work will be detrimental to the character and appearance of the conservation area.
  • There has been no assessment of the historical value of the vegetation and whether it should be retained as part of the protected heritage landscape.
  • The application does not include any information concerning replacement planting for these 18 trees.

She said a better time to consider the proposal would be when the main planning application is considered. There is no date yet set for the full scheme, which also includes 38 courts, 10 other buildings and 9kms of roads and paths, to be determined by Merton and Wandsworth councils.

Meanwhile the petition set up by Save Wimbledon Park, which is calling on Merton and Wandsworth councils to reject the upcoming planning application on the basis that the scale of the development is "unjustified", has now reached nearly 8,000 signatures.

Dr Dawson, who has been visiting Wimbledon Park Lake once a month to record the bird activity, has also just published his latest observations.

He said four Little Egrets have been seen perched in the old willow trees around the lake. These are protected birds first seen on the lake in 2019. He believes a heron family are now established on the lake's island.

"None of this is surprising. Wimbledon Park Lake is included within a Site of Borough Importance for nature conservation because its existing habitats prove attractive to herons, and many other species. It’s hard to improve on this quality of habitat, especially when water sports and intensive lawn tennis development make demands on the space that the special species use," he said.

AELTC plans for Wimbledon ParkBird's eye view of how the Wimbledon Tennis Club could look. Picture: AELTC

Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We've always done that and won't be changing, in fact we'd like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we'd be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you'd like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.