Tennis: Wimbledon set for pounds 100m rebuilding go-ahead

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST phase of the pounds 100m-plus Wimbledon redevelopment programme, the building of a new No 1 Court, will move a step closer tomorrow evening, writes John Roberts. A meeting of the London Borough of Merton's development control sub-committee is expected to make a recommendation to the Department of the Environment for planning permission to be granted.

Though some residents have raised objections to the All England Club's scheme, the council has been surprised how little opposition there has been. 'One or two other planning applications will be discussed on Thursday, and we have received just as many objections to those,' a council representative said yesterday. 'Most residents accept that things have to change and facilities have to improve. There will be inconvenience while the work goes on, but it will not be as traumatic as some of them feel.'

The decision will be taken by the DoE because the Wimbledon project is a development of major significance. The new all-seater oval No 1 Court, with a capacity of 11,500, is expected to take three years to build and is part of a 20-year reconstruction of the All England club's grounds. Stage two entails new facility buldings on the site of the present No 1 Court, and stage three involves the development of the south end of the grounds and the construction of a new No 2 Court.

In making a recommendation, the council will ask for the signing of a Section 106 Agreement in accordance with the Town and County Planning Act. This will ensure the undertaking of off-site work not directly related to the development.

The recommendation will be subject to 46 conditions, or 'minor alterations', including the provision of a shuttle bus to and from the station, an archaeological dig, landscaping, the protection of trees, new planting and the public use of indoor courts.

Wimbledon officials have kept in close contact with the council so the conditions are unlikely to come as a surprise.

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