Whitewebbs Park lease set for judicial review

Enfield Dispatch reports that permission was granted for judicial review of the decision to award the 25-year lease of Whitewebbs Park to Premier League football club.

Whitewebbs Park in Enfield
credit: @avidbeats

Enfield Council have granted a lease of nearly 60% of Whitewebbs parkland to the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, on which they intend to build a football academy. In doing so, the council are ending nearly 100 years of the park being public trust land, restricting substantial access to valuable green space. Not surprisingly, the planned lease sparked a backlash from local residents, with multiple protests and campaigns launched in protest.

As an ancient woodland, with streams flowing through it and much of the land left undisturbed for centuries, Whitewebbs Park is a reported a biodiversity hotspot. The golf course was closed in 2021 and has rapidly ‘reverted’ to meadowland rich in animal and plant life. The course, nearly ninety years old has an old copses of trees, quarried out depressions providing habitats for various species and a wetland pool created a few years ago. According to the Friends of Whitewebbs, the park also has multiple rings of Giant Sequoia trees which at their maximum height can reach 300 feet.

In 1931, an enlightened council purchased the 240 acre Whitewebbs Park with ancient woodland for the benefit of Enfield community and beyond. The park is part of London’s Green Belt and used as open space for public recreation. The notion that we need (urban) green space, nature and clean air is as important now as it was then. Perhaps even more so.

Green spaces play a crucial role in urban and suburban areas, potentially becoming even more important in the future as our climate changes. The Covid-19 pandemic also made us more aware than ever of the importance of being able to access nature, and experiencing all the associated health and wellbeing benefits. Urban green space is in rapid decline, deepening both the climate and mental health crises. Local public green space is fundamental building block for (urban) quality of life and wellbeing.

The ‘Friends of Whitewebbs Park’ have mounted a legal challenge and a judge has now agreed that arguments made against Enfield Council’s lease of the park merits consideration at a full hearing in the High Court. The hearing will take place next year, where a judge will rule on whether or not the council acted lawfully.