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Build, baby, build: In ‘world-leading’ Wimbledon and beyond

A view of Centre Court at The Championships Wimbledon at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
A view of Centre Court at The Championships Wimbledon at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

As an example of the UK being genuinely “world-leading” goes, Wimbledon is hard to beat.

Not necessarily on the court, we must admit, but certainly off it. Even on a catastrophically rainy day – the latest of a series – the All England Club yesterday was a festival of colour and sporting success. 

Needless to say, like many of the things Britain is good at, life is harder than it needs to be. What should be a simple planning approval for an expansion onto a neighbouring golf club – which the All England owns, and for 40-ish weeks of the year wants to turn into a new public park – has been bogged down in bureaucracy and endless planning disputes.This despite the fact that an expanded Championships, with qualifying on site, would give the All England Club more cash to distribute to local community groups and the elite game across the country; an investment in the next Emma Raducanu’s and Andy Murray’s and, yes, Liz and Lily and the ladies who lunch at their local tennis club too. 


The decision now sits with the Mayor’s office, after a difference of opinion between the boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth.

Predictably, the new Lib Dem MP for the area is against the expansion, since the only thing liberal about that particular party under Ed Davey is its adoption of policies almost entirely contradictory to liberalism itself. 

One hopes that sense will prevail, but the endless debate – and expense – speaks to the importance of Labour’s proposed planning reforms.

It is inevitable that local stakeholders will bemoan building, but the complete handing-off of responsibility to local authorities and local politicians under the last government stymied Britain’s economic growth, year after year after year. 

Central planning is, we firmly believe, bad news for any economy.

Our evidence is that every country that has tried. But central government signing off projects that are fully funded by the private sector, held up by endless local red tape, has some merit, particularly when local politicians show no willingness to embrace medium-term or long-term economic growth, focussed only on the short-term necessity of re-election.

Build, baby, build: in Wimbledon, and much further afield.