Spurs reveal first details of plans for Whitewebbs – but locals slam ‘PR exercise’

The first of three public exhibitions is taking place today as Tottenham Hotspur prepares to submit a planning application for its women’s and girls’ academy, reports James Cracknell

A map of the new women's and girls' academy showing the layout of pitches and location of the boundary fence (yellow line)
Map showing the layout of the academy pitches and boundary fence (in yellow)

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC) has confirmed it plans to erect a fence nearly two metres tall surrounding its proposed “world-leading” women’s football academy at Whitewebbs – but also intends to plant 3,000 trees.

The first details of the Premier League club’s proposed takeover of half of Whitewebbs Park were disclosed to the Dispatch ahead of a series of public exhibitions where local residents are being invited to view and discuss its plans for a women’s and girls’ academy.

The first exhibition is taking place at Toby Carvery in Whitewebbs Lane today (Wednesday 1st) from 3pm to 7pm, with others planned at the same venue for next Wednesday 8th (3pm-7pm) and on Saturday 11th (11am-3pm).

Thousands of leaflets were delivered through people’s doors in the area around the park last month, inviting them to attend three consultation events. This is ahead of a full planning application, now being drawn up, which the club is preparing to submit at the end of the year.

However, the Friends of Whitewebbs Park residents’ group, which has organised a series of protests and petitions opposing Enfield Council’s 25-year lease to THFC, has already branded this month’s pre-application consultation as “no more than a PR exercise”.

In a letter to the executive director at Spurs, the group wrote: “The park is already a regional asset offering accessible open space for the residents of Enfield. It is land rich in biodiversity with a variety of natural landscapes for people to enjoy. The purpose of the park is for recreational use by residents and visitors, not by commercial concerns.”

The lease offered to THFC by the council comprises an area representing just over half of Whitewebbs Park, broadly covering the former golf course which closed in 2021, but the fenced-off academy itself will occupy 18% of the overall park. The fence surrounding it will be buttressed by hedging similar to that used around the existing training centre, which will be directly linked to the new academy.

Proposed design for the women's and girls' academy, which will occupy the former northern clubhouse (credit THFC)
The proposed design for the women’s and girls’ academy, occupying and extending the northern clubhouse (credit THFC)

Most of the remaining part of the lease area will be maintained as “historic parkland” by Spurs. However, residents have questioned why a football club would wish to manage a park, with the friends group pointing out in its letter: “To the best of our knowledge THL [Tottenham Hotspur Ltd] has no experience in providing and managing public open parkland.”

It adds: “You will be aware that local opposition to the decision to dispose of the park has been very strong but you have made no meaningful attempts to engage with the users of the park.”

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THFC says it is now welcoming local people’s views and that some ideas residents may have for the parkland could be taken forward with its forthcoming planning application. At the exhibition events, residents will be able to see the first visual impressions of the football academy, which will occupy the building previously used as the northern clubhouse for Whitewebbs Park Golf Course but will also be extended, essentially doubling its footprint.

While the enclosure of the area for the academy and the laying of football pitches will entail the removal of 102 trees and relocation of a further 42, THFC intends to plant 3,000 elsewhere around Whitewebbs.

Spurs also wish to create a “biodiversity corridor” to connect the woodland at Whitewebbs, across the north of the academy site, to link with the upcoming Dicken’s Trough Meadow – a nature reserve originally supposed to be launched around the time the current Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre was built a decade ago, but which is now being taken forward.

Within the woodland, a dilapidated building beside the lake, known as Conduit House, is set to be “transformed into a bird-watching platform”, while existing footpaths and bridleways will be repaired or upgraded.

Spurs also want to erect a new visitor centre in place of the existing café and toilet blocks at the southern entrance to the park. Proposals for this area are still being finalised and could include additional features suggested by residents. One of the ideas put forward for this area is a “community dog park” that would provide “a safe, enclosed space for dogs, that would be managed by the club, potentially in collaboration with a local animal welfare organisation”.

Proposed design for a visitor centre at the southern entrance, replacing the cafe, toilet block and clubhouse buildings
Proposed design for a visitor centre at the southern entrance of Whitewebbs (credit THFC)

In its leaflet promoting the public exhibitions, the club explains: “We are still developing our designs for the site, and we now really want to hear from local residents – those who we hope will use the woods, new parkland, café, and training and educational facilities.

“Our proposals met the council’s objectives of securing this unique site’s future with a green use and also responded to local aspirations for enhanced access to nature and improved public facilities.

“The site presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a regionally significant asset for Enfield and we very much welcome the opportunity to meet this challenge.”

The Whitewebbs Park lease, closure of the golf course and plans for the football academy have all proven highly controversial, with local opposition centred around the loss of access to part of the park. Multiple protests have been staged outside council meetings, while Sean Wilkinson, chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park group, is also pursuing legal action.

For more information on the public consultation and exhibition events:
Call 0800 092 0422
Email [email protected]

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