Published On: 20th May 2024

There is no real protection in law for public parks if this judgment stands.

The High Court has ruled that Enfield Borough Council can dispose of part of Whitewebbs Park to multi-billion-dollar Tottenham Hotspur FC for its own commercial purpose.

But the residents of Enfield are determined to keep fighting to save this beloved public space.

The residents of Enfield are not giving up

The support for Whitewebbs Park among the community has been magnificent and it continues. I want to assure everyone that the fight goes on to protect our beautiful park.

Sean Wilkinson, Claimant and Enfield resident

With plans to expand their training grounds, the proposed development means that Enfield residents will lose access to areas of the park that have been in public hands for nearly a century. It would also require razing several acres of natural parkland to make way for training pitches and manicured gardens. Read more about the case here

Enfield residents came out in force to support the case at Court and have contributed massively to the effort every step of the way. 

PILC has now asked for permission to appeal the decision from the Judge. We plan to continue to fight for this park to be enjoyed in the way that it’s legally intended: for public use. 

Public trust land was one of the great and radical advances to come out of the public backlash against development encroaching on people’s ability to access open space. 

It’s terribly sad that we’ve lost sight of that as a society. This judgment shows a willingness to sell land to private companies that people fought so hard to protect for the public nearly 100 years ago. 

We have earlier generations to thank for their existence and we need to safeguard them for the future. This has always been a fight led by grassroots campaigners and we cannot – and will not – give up now.

Harriet Child, PILC solicitor

Safeguards in law for parks are weak

At the outset of the disposal process, the Council stated that one of its aims was to “enhance public access.”

Yet the judgement acknowledges that selling off this land will mean a “significant” decrease in public access – but has decided to allow it anyway. 

“…in my view, it is clear that football academy and training facilities […] are not facilities which, to any significant degree, will be accessible to the public for recreation.

The football training facility will be primarily focused on the development of emerging and elite professional footballers in a highly managed programme operated by a long established and successful premier league football club.

The opportunity for members of the public to access that facility for recreation are likely to be very limited and subsidiary to that principal purpose.”

Judge Mould, Paragraph 178 of the judgment 

If this can happen to Whitewebbs Park, it can happen anywhere. It can happen to your local park, playground or playing field.We’re working with many residents’ groups facing similar challenges. We’re continuing to fight alongside the residents of Enfield to save Whitewebbs Park. 


The full judgment is available here.

Residents of Enfield are fundraising for permission to appeal. Support them here.

When public space near you is threatened, it can be hard to know how to fight back. There’s no widely available legal advice in this area. It can feel like the local authority holds all the cards and your community has no say.

PILC aims to bring greater accountability and transparency to local authority decision-making around the disposal of public open spaces. By shining a light on their processes, we aim to make sure that open spaces are not unlawfully and irreversibly sold.

If you’d like to get in touch about saving a park or open space near you, contact harriet.child@pilc.org.uk.