Enfield RoadWatch is supporting the Friends of Whitewebbs in their effort to stop Enfield Council from entering into an agreement to lease 60% of Whitewebbs Park to Tottenham Hotspur Limited (or a wholly owned subsidiary of that company) (“THL”)
We are sharing the following information which was recently sent to friends and supporters of Whitewebbs. Apologies for the amount of information, but it’s a complicated issue.
What’s the latest? To avoid legal action by Whitewebbs supporters Enfield Council has shamelessly rushed forward with its plan to lease Whitewebbs Park to THL and its multi-billion-dollar offshore owners. https://www.enfield.gov.uk/consultations/land-to-the-south-of-whitewebbs-lane,-including-the-former-whitewebbs-park-golf-course-public-notice-of-proposed-disposal-of-open-space-land
Objections are invited by email, letter or by online form. These must be submitted to Enfield Council latest by 23.59hrs Sunday 15th January 2023 (also see “how do I object” below for more details)
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 THL and its owners.
There are many problems with this proposal:
- The plan, stated many times by the Council, was to wait for THL 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 granted would a lease be given.
- The Council now wants to rush through the lease before we know what THL wants to do with it.
- A Council notice was posted on a toilet wall by the café in the park last week.
- The leasing process will be actioned over the Christmas and New Year holiday. This is a shameless attempt by the Council to bypass its own procedures and use the holiday period to minimise public participation and the democratic process.
- We do not have details of the proposed lease, only that it is for 25 years with an annual rent of £75,000. A thoroughly misleading statement about a £500,000 “premium” has been issued – in reality this is five years rent paid in advance with nothing more to pay for 5 years with an additional one-off payment of £125,000. A true premium is additional to rent.
- We do not have full details of the bid, only a few selected elements.
- Having avoided any meaningful consultation with park users and the community Enfield Council dumped its promise for the successful bidder to meet the public and answer questions. “Once a preferred bidder has been chosen, the council will arrange for a public engagement day to take place. At this event, the preferred bidder will be available to share their proposals and answer questions about them. As part of any planning process, there will be the usual statutory consultation period where the local community will have the opportunity to comment.” Later amended to: “The preferred bidder(s) will be required to engage with the public once selected and bids must provide a comprehensive communication plan”
- We were then told that objections could be made during the planning process.
- We do not have details of the actual plans that THL has for the leased area. We have “indicative proposals” only and these have no legal weight nor detail. Until THL has submitted its detailed planning application, sometime next year and had that approved/modified or rejected we will not know what its plans for the site are.
- We, with the advice of barristers, believe the whole project to be unlawful but the Council is trying to ram it through regardless.
- If the Lease or “Agreement to Lease” goes through, objecting at the planning stage becomes even more difficult. For months, possibly years the planning officers of Enfield Council have been going through confidential “pre-planning” processes with THL
Even though we are challenging the lawfulness of the whole marketing process, it is important that we do our utmost to oppose the granting of a lease or an “agreement to lease”. (Lawyers will understand the difference)
How do I object?
“Objections are invited by email, letter or by online form. These must be submitted by 23.59 Sunday 15th January 2023” see www.enfield.gov.uk/publicnotices for a copy of the official letter and a map of the area affected.
Letters should be addressed to
Strategic Property Services, London Borough of Enfield, Civic Centre, Silver Street, Enfield, London EN1 3XA
The closing date is 11:59pm on Sunday 15 January 2023
What your email / letter could contain
I/we wish to object to the London Borough of Enfield intention to enter into an agreement to grant a lease of the Property for a term of 25 years to Tottenham Hotspur Ltd (THL) (or a wholly owned subsidiary of that company).
Possible reasons – feel free to use all or some of these but try to use your own words where possible. This is more effective than just copying a template. Please add any other objections you may have.
- It is the opinion of our legal advisors that the whole process of marketing Whitewebbs Park is unlawful. As yet the LBE has not responded to the letter of November 3rdfrom the CPRE, Enfield RoadWatch and the Friends of Whitewebbs. I / we object to the granting of a lease as the Council has not demonstrated that it is lawful for this land to be leased to THL for the purposes indicated.
- Until a full account of what THL intends to do with the land I am /we are not able to support a lease being offered. In the absence of this information, I/ we object to the Council’s proposal.
- I/We have not seen a copy of the draft lease so we are being deprived of the opportunity to make an informed judgement. I/ We, therefore, object to the Council’s intention
- THL has no experience of running a public open space. I/we object to the granting of a lease as THL is unqualified and has no experience in managing open space for the benefit of and free access to the general public.
- The Council and THL have failed to deliver general and specific commitments for the whole process: a] To undertake any meaningful consultation or engagement with the community of park users, both current and potential. b] As the successful bidder THL has made no effort in the past year to engage with the community despite this being a requirement for the successful bidder. c] The Council and THL abandoned this commitment made in 2019
“Once a preferred bidder has been chosen, the council will arrange for a public engagement day to take place. At this event, the preferred bidder will be available to share their proposals and answer questions about them. As part of any planning process, there will be the usual statutory consultation period where the local community will have the opportunity to comment.” The excuse of COVID was used but restrictions were lifted 9 months ago, not long after the successful bidder was confirmed.
I / we object to the granting of a lease because the Council and THL have failed to deliver general and specific commitments for the whole process.
- The “indicative proposals” provided by THL are vague as to public access and facilities. E.g., will the parkland around the lake be permanently accessible by the public? THL will control all the main entrances to the park (including the Ancient Woodland) and the car parking. a] Will the lease permit THL to control access times for pedestrian users? b] Will there be adequate parking for all visitors at both ends of the park and will this continue to be free of charge? c] What facilities will be provided for public use by visitors – there is some confusion in the published information. d] How will the lease be enforced and who will be accountable for enforcing the terms of the lease? (Enfield has a poor record of lease enforcement)
I /we object to the granting of a lease as it does not guarantee full public access to the park
- Many of the proposed enhancements are already happening without input from THL. a] The golf course already has the appearance of 19thCentury parkland. b] The golf course has already reverted to meadowland with a large variety of plants and grasses. c] Natural rewilding has resulted in the growth of hundreds of young trees.
I/we object to the granting of a lease as it does not require any real enhancement to what has already happened and what is progressing naturally.
- The bid criteria referred to the provision of a range of activities. The documentation we have seen makes reference to an elite training facility for women and girls’ football and to a turf academy. Unless THL is using unskilled and untrained labour to maintain its current facilities this academy must exist in some form already. I / we object to the proposed lease as it does not require the provision or finance a “range of activities”
- There is no commitment by THL to fund any improvements to park facilities other than in the area of their lease. While they promise enhancement to statutory footpaths (rights of way), there are no rights of way in the proposed lease area. All enhancements outside the leased area are to be funded from the (very low) rental paid to the Council. I/we object to the granting of a lease as it does not maintain or enhance public space and access to that space.
- The money. The lease covers how much land is involved and the rent charged. The annual rent is set at £75,000 (with reviews). A “Premium” of £500,000* is referred to, but this is not a premium. It is 5 years rent in advance with nothing more to pay for 5 years. The “Premium” element is £125,000 giving an average annual rental of £80,000.
This is a ludicrously low rental, more appropriate to farmland than to use by a major commercial sports corporation. Was the question ever asked “What is the value of this land to THL?” This figure represents a serious incapacity of the Council and its estates department to get best value for money from public assets and for the people of Enfield. Big sport can afford big money when it wants things – look at what AELTC (Wimbledon Tennis) paid to buy up the remaining 20 years of a golf club lease -£63million pounds. I/we object to the lease proposal as it does not offer the best return on Enfield’s assets
- An alternative lease arrangement. THL has no interest in managing public open space. There was no requirement for them to bid for 60% of the park. “Bidders were not required to include the entire park within their bids.” Enfield Council. THL has already built a Women’s facility on its existing ground. It does not need the park, maybe just enough land to build 6 pitches linked to its existing facilities. This would leave most of the park as open space for public use and provide an income for the park that would cover the costs of park maintenance and improvements. Unless THL has much greater ambitions than stated so far, this alternate lease would provide a much better arrangement for the people of Enfield. I/we object to the lease proposal as it gives control of our public space to a commercial business with no interest in maintaining public access.
- Environmental and Climate– Astroturf pitches and plastic reinforced hybrid pitches will have a negative effect on the biodiversity of Enfield’s green belt. Creating land suitable for pitches of this type will involve a massive amount of earth movement and landscape modification. Unless the lease severely restricts the amount of environmental damage and requires full reinstatement of the existing landscape at the end of the lease I / we cannot support this proposal.
*The £500,000 “premium” bid in 2020 should be adjusted to approx. £582,575.25 to allow for inflation according to the Bank of England calculator.
Please add your own objections to the “agreement to lease” proposal.
If you are sending your objection by email to email@example.com please add as a cc firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com , your ward councillors – their email addresses can be found here https://governance.enfield.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?FN=WARD&VW=LIST&PIC=0
Your GLA member Joanne.firstname.lastname@example.org