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Prime Minister backs Roland Garros revamp

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has confirmed the government’s support for a major expansion project of Roland Garros, the home of the French Open tennis grand slam tournament.

Under the plans, a removable roof will be added to the centre court at Roland Garros, Court Philippe Chatrier, while the cramped 8.5-hectare site will be expanded to 12.5 hectares by swallowing up one hectare that is currently part of the neighbouring Serres d'Auteuil botanical garden. The cost of the expansion has been projected to be between €350m ($377m) and €400m – much more than the original €273m budget.

The French Tennis Federation (FFT), which has been behind the project, has been locked in a decade-long battle with residents living close to the tournament’s Parisian home over proposals to expand facilities at the site.

“The Prime Minister confirms that the government will make its recommendation on all procedures under its jurisdiction by the end of this week to allow work to begin as quickly as possible,” the government said in a statement. The project must still be granted the necessary permits by the Ministry of Culture and the Environment, but such approval is now thought to be a formality.

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, called the approval a “just and responsible decision” while the FFT said it was “very satisfied.”