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Two local campaigning groups have joined forces with the London branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England in defence of continued public recreational access to the whole of Whitewebbs Park

Local campaigners have notified Enfield Council that in their view the planned leasing of a large part of Whitewebbs Park to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is unlawful. They have warned both the council and the football club that they intend to enforce the rights of the public to make use of the land for recreation and will take legal action if necessary.

Local groups Enfield RoadWatch and the Friends of Whitewebbs Park, along with the London branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), wrote to the council on 3rd November. On 8th November a letter sent to Tottenham Hotspur warned the club that the groups "intend to enforce the rights of the public to the recreational use of the land with recourse to legal action if necessary".

On the basis that Whitewebbs is "open space", as defined in Article 6 of the Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Order 1967, the community groups contend that while the law does allow the council to lease out the land, this must be for "public recreation". However, the football club's main purpose for leasing the land would be to train elite professional footballers.

The campaigners say that the "highly specialised and focussed training regime" at the planned women's training academy cannot be defined as "recreational" or "public". Furthermore, they point out, the demanding screening requirements for entry to the academy will exclude the vast majority of people, public access to the a large part of the park will be significantly restricted, and the land will be largely owned and run for the sole benefit of a commercial sports corporation.

What are the Tottenham Hotspur proposals for Whitewebbs Park?

whitewebbs tottenham hotspur lease proposal indicative mapMap showing Tottenham Hotspur's "indicative proposals" for Whitewebbs. The numbers on the map refer to points from publicity issued byTottenham Hotspur and reproduced below.

>whitewebbs tottenham hotspur lease proposal pink area would be leased

Map showing the extent of the land that would be leased to Tottenham Hotspur (shading added by Palmers Green Community)

The Club is proposing to take a lease on part of the site (edged blue), with Whitewebbs Wood being retained in Council control and unchanged (edged red). Subject to further consultation and planning, the proposals include:

1. Ecological and recreational value of Whitewebbs Wood enhanced through public access and landscape improvements

2. Restoration of areas of historic parkland on site of former golf course.

3. Ecological and landscape improvements around Cuffley Brook

4. New Women & Girls' Football Academy centred on Northern Clubhouse and with playing pitches set out amongst ecological and landscape improvements

5. Ecological and landscape improvements to the northern boundary to provide a link into Dickenson's Meadow and the existing Training Centre beyond

6. Redevelopment of Southern Clubhouse to provide new food & beverage/visitor facilities amongst ecological and landscape improvements

tottenham hotspur proposals for whitewebbs parkAnother map from the Tottenham Hotspur publicity brochure. Here "Open/Managed" appears to denote land under the control of the football club but open to the public, while "Managed" would not be publicly accessible

Source: Whitewebbs Park Golf Course: Summary of Tottenham Hotspur Proposals

Sean Wilkinson of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park said: “The proposed sports academy will primarily be run for the purposes of contributing to the commercial success of the club. It will no longer be a public park. It’s that simple. Covid has brought home to all of us how important our open spaces are for the mental and physical well-being of the whole community and Whitewebbs is a busy park every day of the week with people of all ages enjoying space and the natural environment.”

Alice Roberts of CPRE London said: “We are extremely concerned that we’re seeing threats to parks all over London so we are now helping local groups access legal support to ensure they have the best chance of saving London’s parks for generations to come. We are also supporting local campaigners fighting to save Wimbledon Park in Merton, West Ham Park in Newham and Greendale Park in Southwark, for example. It is hard to believe it is often left to local groups to fight these battles but this is unfortunately how it is.”

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PGC Webmaster's Avatar
PGC Webmaster posted a reply #6657 10 Nov 2022 00:03
Sean Wilkinson from the Friends of Whitewebbs Park has provided some comments and additional information:

Hi Basil

This page might help with some of your questions:

It is worth enlarging the indicative map to look at the exact boundaries - even to side of the path they are drawn on.

1. Spurs will control all the entrances to the park and parking areas.

2. Areas 3 and 1 remain under Council control.

3. While public access will be retained (for the time being) for area 2 it is far from clear what will be the situation around the Lake. The boundary includes the path from the North Lodge Gate to the back entrance of Whitewebbs House. The boundary then switches to the other side of the path through the wood for areas 3 and 1 making that the responsibility of the Council to maintain.

4. The woodland in the East is Archers Wood which is leased to Capel Manor, now used for the Beaver.

5. The small patch of land between the existing Spurs ground and the Golf Course is supposed to be developed as a nature reserve - a Spurs promise of long standing but with no delivery.

6. You are correct about area 3, this has been rewilding / renaturing at an increasingly fast rate. I have asked Marcus Harvey for a management plan which will involve drainage maintenance and an ecological balance.

7. Spurs say that they want to restore area 2 as 19th Century Parkland. After just over a year since golf course maintenance ceased that is precisely what it looks like. I would urge people to remember that 19th Century parkland implies private land not a public space. I suspect that they will allow cattle grazing in the area thereby discouraging the public from using it.

8. The Spurs brochure is very carefully worded. The pictures of footpaths look great (they are from NSW) but there is obligation on Spurs part to provide them. There are no significant footpaths in the Spurs area and certainly no rights of way. Any improvements to footpaths and other facilities in the Council retained areas will have to be paid fro from the money paid to the Council. The much vaunted "premium" of £500,000 is made up of 5 years advance rental plus £125,000 real premium. This will just about cover year to year maintenance. Bringing some footpaths and bridleways up to the standards indicated will easily eat up the £500,000 with nothing left for annual maintenance.

9. The only part of the bridleway that Spurs commit to improving is the length along the northern boundary of their proposed playing fields. The North South sections of the bridleway are public rights of way and it is far from clear as to who will be responsible for repairs.

10 . The map and the plan to control the entrances suggest to me that the plan is for Spurs to buy up the lease on Whitewebbs House (for corporate hospitality / hotel use) hence the boundary incorporating the North Lodge entrance and path to the house rear entrance. Public access will be controlled by parking restrictions and charges and by deterrence factors in area 2. The provision of public facilities are "subject to planning permission" and may not happen. My belief is that, within ten years, this will be the Spurs private estate

The Council and Spurs used COVID as an excuse for avoiding the promised provision of a public meeting where questions could be asked. Mark Bradbury said that all such matters could be dealt with at the Planning Application stage - not true. Enfield did not respond to my suggestion that such a meeting could be held in the Spring of this year when COVID restrictions were eased.

Sorry that this is so long but I hope that it clarifies a few points.
Darren Edgar's Avatar
Darren Edgar posted a reply #6661 10 Nov 2022 09:09
I hope this won't just be another misinformation campaign by FoWW, again, following on from the rubbish that came out during the initial sale.

As a council tax payer the "unlawful" claim fills me with dread too. As is speaks to another misguided attempt to take a process to Court to try over-turn it for largely selfish reasons. This will cost tax payers either way - FoWW win and we go back to having to waste £100k pa subsidising a golf course (1 of several in the Borough) that nobody uses, lose and the Council will have spent 10s of 1000s of tax payer pounds defending a vexatious and meritless claim.