Tottenham Hotspur pursue bid to take over north London park
Tottenham Hotspur continue to pursue their takeover over of a historic public park in Enfield
We wonder why Tottenham Hotspur think it is appropriate to takeover a public park in Enfield? Why would Enfield Council think it appropriate to lease a public park to a wealthy premiership football club? These are questions we and local residents are asking, not just because the people of Enfield stand to lose one of their most beautiful parks but also because it raises serious questions about whether London’s parks are adequately protected.
We have previously written about why we believe it is illegal for the council to sell the park in this way.
So what’s this all about?
Enfield Council published a tender some time ago asking for bids to run the old golf course site, which was closed during the COVID lockdown, despite many people saying the golf course was in fact financially sound. Since it was closed the site has re-wilded and now combines with the rest of the park to form an astoundingly beautiful landscape.
The council insisted they were looking for someone to help run the site who would improve public access, to run it like a park for the public. There was always the option for the council to continue to run the park itself – it’s not clear why they didn’t want to do this apart from that they felt it might cost too much money.
Some months on, we were astonished, and angry, when the council announced its preferred bidder was Tottenham Hotspur, with their proposal to build their women’s training centre on the site, putting up fencing, excluding the public entirely and creating engineered pitch surfaces which remove all potential for animal or plant life.
Of course we support the development of women’s football. But Tottenham have a large training centre next to the park and already have facilities for women’s training.
We can only conclude that taking over a very large piece of land in London for what can only be described as peanuts, is a bonanza financially for the club. It remains unclear why Enfield Council feel giving away a public asset cheaply in this way is appropriate: they say some funding will go to sports in the borough – hardly compensation for loss of a hugely valuable public asset. The council clearly does not see itself as the custodian of this site, looking after it for the public – they see themselves as a landowner, who can do whatever they want with it, including selling it off.
Leaving all that aside… Tottenham Hotspur is now ‘consulting’ an already fed-up public about their proposals. Most feel this is a disingenuous PR exercise, an attempt to get the public on board with a very unpopular scheme. This is what the Friends of Whitewebbs Park have to say:
- We do not accept that the procurement process was thorough in that there was no meaningful consultation with the Friends of Whitewebbs, park users and other interested parties / stakeholders.
- 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.
- To the best of our knowledge THL (Tottenham Hotspur) has no experience in providing and managing public open parkland.
- The original schedule provided by the Council indicated that THL would be engaging with park users shortly after the announcement of the successful bid, not after an agreement to lease.
- 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.
- It is our belief that what you put forward as consultation is no more than a PR exercise. Neither exhibitions or webinars are vehicles for meaningful consultation. Your proposals are not acceptable.
- We would suggest that public meetings with an independent Chair in accessible locations and at accessible times would be a more productive, honest, transparent and open way of consulting with the people of Enfield. These meetings should be open to park users, to the Whitewebbs stakeholders as listed by LBE (London Borough of Enfield) in their marketing updates and to organisations with an established interest in the protection of Whitewebbs Park such as Enfield RoadWatch, the Enfield Society, Friends of neighbouring parks and CPRE (London).
- We would also propose that you publish your draft proposals for the park, including the draft terms of the lease and the proposed management structure, including the habitat bank.
At CPRE London, we are frankly open-mouthed that a wealthy football club can even think about taking over a public park in this way. We urge them to think again. Nor can we believe that a London borough can actually believe it is in the interests of the public to hand over a public asset to a profit-making company in this way. We urge the council to listen to residents and halt the selling off of this jewel in Enfield’s crown.