Anger as council publicises lease of Whitewebbs Park to Tottenham Hotspur

Enfield Council appears to have broken pledge to not issue lease before planning permission granted, reports James Cracknell

Tottenham Hotspur was chosen last year as the preferred bidder to lease the now-closed Whitewebbs Park Golf Couse
Tottenham Hotspur was chosen last year as the preferred bidder to lease the now-closed Whitewebbs Park Golf Couse

Councillors and campaigners have accused Enfield Council of breaking a key promise on the future of Whitewebbs Park after a public notice announcing a 25-year lease to Tottenham Hotspur was published.

The Premier League football club – whose training ground is adjacent to Whitewebbs – last year became the preferred choice for leasing the former Whitewebbs Park Golf Course, with a new Spurs women’s academy being proposed for the northern half and public parkland for the southern half. However, the council stated clearly at the time that “no lease would be entered into unless and until planning consent is granted”.

Now, that promise appears to have been broken, with notices being posted in the local area last week stating that “the London borough of Enfield intends to enter into an agreement to grant a lease of the property for a term of 25 years to Tottenham Hotspur Limited (or a wholly owned subsidiary of the said company), which is or may include open space”. This is despite no planning application from Tottenham Hotspur being submitted.

The full wording of the public notice can be viewed here.

Sean Wilkinson, chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park group, said: “The plan, stated many times, was to wait for Spurs to submit its planning application for the park to the planning committee. At that stage the public could make objections. Only after/if planning permission was given would a lease be given.

“The council now wants to rush through the lease, before we know what Spurs wants to do. A notice was posted on a toilet wall in the park. The leasing process will be actioned over the Christmas and new year holiday. This is a shameless attempt to bypass its own procedures and use the holiday period to minimise public participation and the democratic process.

“Why is this being done and who benefits? The people of Enfield will get nothing – the proposed rent is pathetically small. The only beneficiary will be Spurs and its owners.”

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All three of the Conservative councillors who represent Whitewebbs have also expressed their anger of the council’s public notice. David Skelton said: “This is totally unacceptable. It is a breach of the promise made by the council when this was initially agreed, that the planning application would come before the lease, and also a breach of the promise to properly consult the community.”

The future of Whitewebbs Park was said to be one of the main reasons why Labour was unable to win any seats in the ward at this year’s local election. “We knocked on thousands of doors during the election campaign and every single one opposed the development,” said Cllr Skelton. “It was the one thing that consistently came up on the doorstep. It is deeply disappointing they are doing this just before Christmas.”

The move by the council comes just over a month after a letter threatening legal action over the “enclosure” of Whitewebbs was sent by campaigners to the council.

People who wish to object to the advertised lease are invited to email [email protected] or write to the council’s strategic property services at Enfield Civic Centre, before the deadline on Sunday 15th January.

Update (5pm, 19th Dec)

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “Enfield Council has categorically not entered into a lease with Tottenham Hotspur FC – the council’s position has not changed. 

“The council has approved the granting of an ‘agreement for lease’ which makes it absolutely concrete that no lease can be entered into with THFC until defined pre-conditions have been met and fulfilled. The granting of a lease is therefore wholly contingent on THFC securing planning permission for the women’s football academy, as well as carrying out repairs and renovations to paths, bridleways and fences, and to improve the café and toilet facilities. Until then, the council will not enter into any lease with THFC.” 

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