Whitewebbs Park - help fund the Judicial Review

by Sean Wilkinson

Whitewebbs Park - help fund the Judicial Review

by Sean Wilkinson
Sean Wilkinson
Case Owner
I have been an Enfield resident for over 40 years and an almost daily user of Whitewebbs for 16 years. Currently I am Chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park
12
days to go
£24,312
pledged of £25,000 stretch target from 439 pledges
Pledge now
Sean Wilkinson
Case Owner
I have been an Enfield resident for over 40 years and an almost daily user of Whitewebbs for 16 years. Currently I am Chair of the Friends of Whitewebbs Park
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

The next round of the legal battle

Round one of the campaign to preserve Whitewebbs Park as open space for the people of Enfield has been enormously successful. Grateful thanks to all our amazing and dedicated supporters who raised £18,000 for the initial legal action – fantastic – thank you!

Many of you will be aware that on November 1st, the High Court granted permission for a Judicial Review, acknowledging that "The Claimant has raised arguable grounds which merit consideration at a full hearing."

The hearing is scheduled for February 6th, 7th, and 8th, 2024, at the High Court.

We now need your support again as we start round two of our fundraising campaign; this time we need to raise funds for the complete Judicial Review hearing costs, with an immediate target to raise £12,000 for legal costs.

The fundraising appeal will remain open as £12,000 represents the absolute minimum we need to proceed, and there could well be further costs that we will need to cover. We need to reach the initial target of £12,000  as quickly as possible.

As well as giving permission for Judicial Review the Judge was “satisfied that this is an Aarhus Convention claim” and granted “cost capping”. This means the costs I would have to pay if I lost the case were capped at an affordable level, taking into account the crowdfunding. This costs protection is essential for me to proceed with the claim. Enfield Council and THFC decided to appeal this decision which does put some pressure on me as the claimant.

Surely a fair hearing before an impartial High Court judge on the lawfulness of the Council’s action is the best way forward for all? With this in mind, I have instructed the legal team to proceed and there will be a hearing to decide the costs capping issue a few days before the full Judicial Review.

The background story

For those unfamiliar with the story, in 1931, an enlightened council acquired historic Whitewebbs Park, spanning 240 acres of beautiful ancient woodland and parkland, for the benefit of all Enfield residents. Initially part of the ancient royal hunting ground of Enfield Chase and part of London's precious and important Green Belt, the park serves as open space for so many different types of public recreation. Unfortunately, Enfield Council plans to dispose of nearly 60% of this land to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and its multi-billion-dollar offshore owners!

Enfield Council's proposal involves leasing approximately 60% of the park, including the old public golf course, the lake area, and some ancient woodland, to THFC. This ‘arrangement’ would mark the end of nearly a century of the park being public trust land. The current plan involves levelling about 40 acres for football pitches, including at least one plastic Astroturf pitch, exclusively for the THFC academy. The remaining 100 acres, which includes entrances and car parks, would be controlled, managed, and developed by THFC. Unfortunately, the specifics of their plans remain unclear, as only vague "indicative proposals" have been shared, and the full terms of the lease and substantive planning application have not been disclosed.

The question arises: if THFC only needs 40 acres for their pitches, why do they require control over an additional 100 acres of public open parkland which is for the benefit of the people of Enfield? THFC lacks a track record or experience in managing public open spaces for the community.

Supporters of Whitewebbs Park, in collaboration with CPRE London, Enfield RoadWatch, and the Friends of Whitewebbs, have been actively opposing Enfield Council's proposal since summer 2021. Despite objections, meaningful consultation has been absent, and petitions, protests, and letters have been disregarded. This is simply unacceptable.

Generous donations from local residents, totalling £2,664, initially enabled the seeking of legal advice.

Subsequently, CPRE London, Enfield RoadWatch, and the Friends of Whitewebbs sent a letter to Enfield Council outlining the unlawfulness of the entire proposal. However, the Council has ignored all objections and is proceeding with the disposal to THFC, despite the club already having an extensive training ground adjacent to the park.

In response to this, I have decided to challenge the decision in court in my capacity as a resident of Enfield and am actively raising funds to pursue a judicial review. I firmly believe it is not lawful for the Council to dispose of a significant portion of Whitewebbs Park to a private company, jeopardizing access to community open space—a crucial element for the environment and the mental and physical well-being of all communities.

Your continued and much appreciated support for preserving Whitewebbs Park as an ancient public park and woodland is now essential, so please consider pledging whatever you can.

This case also extends far beyond Whitewebbs Park; it is vital for the preservation of many open spaces currently under threat. Your support is deeply appreciated.

Thank you,

Sean Wilkinson

More information about the park and the campaign can be found at

www.whitewebbspark.org.uk  and on Facebook - Walking in Whitewebbs and on Whitewebbs Woof and Walkers

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