We’re furious at plans to build training ground for Spurs on public park – it looks appalling & locals won’t benefit | The Sun

RESIDENTS are furious at plans for Tottenham Hotspur to build a large training complex on a public park while paying a “pathetically small” fee for the land.

Spurs last year became the preferred choice to be granted a 25-year lease to turn half of a former golf course next to its current men's training ground in Enfield into a football academy for its women and girls.

The proposed state-of-the-art training 'hub' on Whitewebbs Park will include up to eight pitches and a modern clubhouse.

The other half of Whitewebbs Park will be turned into parkland which would be “fully accessible by the public”.

If awarded the lease, Spurs will have to pay Enfield Council in North London a mere £500,000 up front, plus £75,000 per year.

That works out at a total of just £2.4million, only enough to cover the club's star striker Harry Kane's £200,000-a-week wages for four months.


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Campaigners who want to retain 100% access to the whole of Whitewebbs Park are furious at what they say is a derisory sum of money compared to the amount of money the club makes.

Sean Wilkinson, chair of Friends of Whitewebbs Park, said the financial benefits to the council were “non-existent” compared to what the club could afford. 

He called for whoever negotiated the deal to resign, and threatened Enfield Council with legal action.

He said: “I have serious concerns about this – not just what they are doing for the park but for the financial basis of this deal. 

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“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 Spurs and its owners.

"Whoever has negotiated this should be seriously considering their position. It looks appalling for the park.”

Aside from the women's training complex, Spurs bid would see it given responsibility for improvements to footpaths and bridleways, restoration of part of the former golf course as public parkland, and redevelopment of the southern clubhouse as a public cafe.

But Mr Wilkinson also warned Spurs had no experience of running a public park.

He said: “The proposed sports academy will primarily be run for the purposes of contributing to the commercial success of the club. It will no longer be a public park. It’s that simple.

“Covid has brought home to all of us how important our open spaces are for the mental and physical wellbeing of the whole community and Whitewebbs is a busy park every day of the week with people of all ages enjoying space and the natural environment.”

Local politicians have also weighed into the dispute, with the plan to lease out Whitewebbs Park Golf Course a key issue in a by-election campaign that took place last year. 

The election saw the Conservative candidate Andrew Thorp win a seat from Labour after pledging to campaign to protect Whitewebbs.

Cllr Thorp said: “I am deeply disappointed that the council has decided to push ahead with this course of action and offer the lease to Spurs. This is another example of the council not not listening to residents and not representing residents’ views.

“While the process to look at options has been ongoing, residents have been consistent in their objections to this plan. They want to retain 100% access to the park – and that will not be the case.”

Cllr Thorp claimed residents felt they had not been consulted properly and believed the council was simply “going through the motions” by asking for their views. 

But he encouraged people to continue to make their opinions heard by commenting on the upcoming planning application.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: "Tottenham Hotspur’s proposal was the highest scoring against the criteria set out by the council and has demonstrated a commitment to embrace and support the council’s vision for the Whitewebbs Park Golf Course site – which was developed in partnership with local stakeholders after extensive local engagement.

"This decision to grant a lease to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club for part of the Whitewebbs Park Golf Course site, subject to planning permission, would enhance public access, improve maintenance of woodland and open areas, and provide welfare facilities and refreshments.

“The proposals also include a new women’s and girls’ football academy and a sports turf academy, both of which will provide opportunities for the next generation.

“The council’s commitment to invest £100,000 a year extra into grassroots sport for young people, if the proposals are approved, was well publicised in June and has not changed.

"The additional investment into grassroots sports for young people has been enthusiastically received by residents across the borough.”

A Spurs spokesman said: "Our bid is based on the combination of a strong financial offer in the form of a lease and premium payments, enhanced public access through improvements to footpaths and bridleways, restoration of part of the former golf course to recreate parkland, redevelopment of the southern clubhouse to form new food and beverage facilities open to the public, and the creation of a new women and girls football academy centred on the restoration and conversion of the northern clubhouse, thereby creating a national first situated here in Enfield.”

They added: “The club’s bid was evaluated against published criteria which included bidders’ experience in comparable leisure uses, business plan and financial standing. 

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"As the council report notes, the club also scored highest in these categories as well as scoring the highest overall. The club has already developed one of the world’s leading and award-winning sports facilities next door to Whitewebbs Park.

“The club is looking forward to working closely with all stakeholders to develop its proposals into a planning application next year.”

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