Whitewebbs and the Spurs lease: our view in detail

With the failure of the judicial review in relation to the lawfulness of the Council’s proposed lease for part of Whitewebbs Park to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (THFC), The Enfield Society has looked carefully at the Planning Application.

The Society does not object in principle to the proposal for the lease of part of the Estate (the Leased Area) to Tottenham Hotspur (THFC) and the use of part of the Leased Area for football pitches and facilities for its Women’s Academy. We are aware that many people object strongly to the disposal of public property to a commercial organisation and question the Clubs commitment to maintain a major part of the parkland. However, if the Council is minded to approve the application, in our view the proposals, if properly implemented, could provide much needed improvements to the park.

The Society recognises that extensive improvements are needed to Whitewebbs Park to maintain the historic landscape and to provide improved facilities for visitors to this much-loved park. Pathways (both tarmac and tracks), driveways, fencing, toilets, signage, the cafe, the Conduit House, the route of the historic old New River Loop all need significant repair and improvements. Given the state of public finances at the present time this will not be funded through the Council. Therefore, without external resources the park will deteriorate further.

However, our non-objection is strictly subject to the following issues and conditions. A number of them are addressed in THFC’s proposals, but in our view, it is essential that they are formalised in the Lease of the Leased Area and/or in conditions of the relevant planning consents. It is disappointing that there has been a long delay in implementing THFC’s obligations under its Section 106 Agreement of 21 December 2018 in relation to the Western Field and Dickenson’s Trough and this has additionally given rise to a lack of confidence about THFC’s commitment to provide the public benefits which it promises.

General comments

  • The part of the Leased Area to be enclosed for the Women’s Academy must be strictly as shown in the THFC proposal.
  • The remainder of the Leased Area must not be fenced except where there is existing fencing and will be accessible to the public and “free to roam” at any reasonable time. Access should be available at all points where this is currently the case.
  • There should be a mandated timetable of works such that the improvement works on the public area, and completion of the Dickenson’s trough nature reserve, must be carried out at the same time as, or before, the work on the Academy area.
  • The part of the former golf course not enclosed for the Academy must be maintained as open grassland in the style of a country estate. The woodland included in the Leased Area should be managed as a whole with the woodland, which is to be retained by the Council, with the objective of protecting and enhancing the whole as a bio-diverse woodland environment.
  • Without prejudice to the general public right to roam, the Council and THFC will cooperate to have the paths shown in THFC’s original proposals designated as rights of way.
  • The present car parks must be retained and should remain free to use.
  • THFC will maintain a refreshment facility (café) open to the public, at the very least of a standard similar to the present facility.
  • The part of the land used for the Academy will be landscaped, and any fencing designed, in a way which maintains an “open country” feel. THFC’s existing facilities are landscaped in a formal and manicured style which would be entirely inappropriate in the context of the Whitewebbs landscape. The entrance and security arrangements for the Academy compound should be designed to be as inconspicuous as possible. On no account should they reproduce the “Los Angeles suburban” feel of the entrance to the existing Spurs facility. There should be no obstacle to walking directly into the park from the footpath along Whitewebbs Road to the east (though this will cross the access to the Academy area).
  • Since the Leased Area forms part of a historic estate, all landscape and other works should be conducted under archaeological supervision.
  • There should be an advisory committee of local stakeholders with the right to be informed and consulted about the management of the public parts of the Leased Area. (This would be similar to the committee to be established in relation to the nature reserve under the 2018 Agreement.)

Particular issues

  • Road Access – We are unhappy about the proposal to re-route traffic to the Toby Carvery via the path leading south from the North Lodge. This may have been the historic entrance road to Whitewebbs House, but it now forms a quiet woodland path which is an important feature of the park. Reopening it for traffic will degrade this part of the woodland and will have the effect that the lake will have traffic running on both sides. This idea was not publicised in THFC’s original plans, and we cannot see why both the Academy and the Toby Carvery should not use the same access. If the proposal to use the present path on the west of the lake as the vehicular access to the Toby Carvery is agreed, there should be stringent conditions to ensure that the road is paved and edged in a manner consistent with an estate drive (i.e. not tarmac with concrete curbs!) and that any lighting is carefully designed to be inconspicuous (the lights in Snakes Lane are a good example of what is possible).
  • Conduit House – We note the proposal to restore the historic Conduit House as a feature of the park. However, it is important to bear in mind that a building on the site enclosing and protecting a spring is recorded in the reign of Elizabeth I, and though the present structure has been rebuilt over the centuries it may have Tudor foundations. It is also possible that there are still traces of the lead pipework which would have taken water from the spring to Whitewebbs House. It is important that there should be a proper archaeological investigation of the building and its surroundings before any reconstruction is undertaken, and that the reconstruction should be supervised by a conservation architect. There should also be an information board recording its history. It is noted that a similar Tudor conduit House exists to the north of Eltham Palace in Greenwich. In this case the London Borough of Greenwich have made a feature of the structure recording in history on information boards.
  • Course of New River Loop – The former course of the New River Whitewebbs Loop crosses the Leased Area twice. The earthworks remain visible and they give context to the Flash Lane Aqueduct, a protected Ancient Monument in the Whitewebbs woods just outside the Leased Area. We think it is important to ensure that the earthworks are not removed by any landscaping works. We would like to see the restoration of the heritage trail which used to follow the course of the Loop from Myddelton House through the Whitewebbs and Forty Hall estates. In addition, the work could include the provision of information panels that would complement those on the Enfield Town New River Loop and those currently being worked up for the New River between Tenniswood Road and the M25.
  • Perimeter of the Fenced Area – Great care will be needed to ensure that the football pitches and surrounding fences are screened to preserve the country estate atmosphere of the remaining parts of the Leased Area. As many existing trees as possible should be retained, and the screening formed of native countryside species (emphatically not laurel hedges as used at THFC’s existing facility).
  • The restoration of North Lodge should be considered, possibly as part of a Section 106 condition of the planning consent.
Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.