Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor for planning, is set to decide whether or not expansion plans by the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), organizers of the Wimbledon Grand Slam tennis tournament, can go ahead.

A spokesperson for City Hall has now said: “This is a major planning application, of London-wide significance. Therefore, the deputy mayor has issued a direction under Article Seven of the Town and Country Planning (Mayor of London) Order that he becomes the local planning authority for the purposes of determining the application.

“A full planning hearing will be held in due course.”

The AELTC wants to build 39 tennis courts, including an 8,000-seater show court, on the former site of the Grade 2-listed Wimbledon Park Golf Club in southeast London.

While the golf club had a lease through 2041, that contract was terminated after members voted to allow AELTC to buy the remaining 23-year lease for £65 million in December 2018. Under that deal, golf club members received £85,000 each.

The AELTC won approval from Merton Council’s development and planning application committee, which is responsible for most of the land required – however, in November, Wandsworth Council voted against its proposals.

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Merton Council then referred the decision to the Greater London Authority, with the decision officially lying with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. However, Khan has recused himself after publicly expressing support for the project in 2021. The decision, therefore, now lies with Pipe.

The AELTC has contested that the expansion will allow Wimbledon qualifying to occur on-site, in line with the other three Grand Slams on the tennis calendar – in Melbourne, Paris, and New York. Qualifying is currently staged at the Bank of England Sports Centre in Roehampton, three-and-half miles away.

The new show court will have 8,000 seats and a roof to meet Wimbledon’s goal of having another court that can be used regardless of the weather.

In terms of visitors, the extra site will allow up to 10,000 more people a day to watch qualifying and up to 50,000 to enter the ground during each day of the main fortnight.

Meanwhile, a new 23-acre public park will be created with access free and all year round, excluding the weeks of the Championship.

Responding to the latest move, AELTC chair Deborah Jevan said: “Our proposals will deliver one of the greatest sporting transformations for London since the 2012 Olympics.

“It will bring the qualifying event on-site, in line with the other grand slams, and will ensure that Wimbledon remains one of the world’s best sporting events.

“Protecting the future of the championships, as well as significantly increasing publicly accessible green space, is a win-win for Londoners and will demonstrate beyond doubt that London is the sporting capital of the world.”

However, there has also been strong local opposition to the plan, including from members of the Save Wimbledon Park organization protesting outside Wandsworth Council due to the environmental impact brought about by the loss of trees and open spaces.

Both local MPs – Labour’s Fleur Anderson and Conservative Stephen Hammond – have opposed the proposals.

On X (formerly Twitter), Anderson said: “The plans as they currently stand are bad for public access to green space, Londoners’ lungs, and our environment.

“The GLA is a world-leading local authority when it comes to putting Londoners’ health and our environment first.”