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Marketing of Whitewebbs Park Golf Course

Proposals for Whitewebbs Park Golf Course are being considered by Enfield Council

Enfield Council is considering proposals which would see long term investments in sport and rewilding at Whitewebbs.

The proposals have been submitted by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in response to a call from the council for experienced sports and leisure operators to suggest proposals for the site.

Using the rental income received, Enfield Council will reinvest an additional £100k a year into grassroots sport for young people across the borough.

If the council agrees to the club’s proposals, it would see:

  • Restoration of over half of the former golf course to parkland and wild meadows
  • Retention of the woodlands by Enfield Council with investment in improving biodiversity and improved paths for walking, cycling and horse riding
  • Investment to reinstate 19th century parkland with a new café, toilets and other facilities
  • The creation of a new Women’s and Girls’ Football Academy to develop the game at grassroots level
  • Opportunities for community and educational activities
  • A Sports Turf Academy providing employment and training opportunities for a new generation of sports turf, greenkeeping, horticultural and mechanical staff
  • Enfield Council will invest an extra £100,0000 a year into grassroot sport for young people across the borough

The club’s proposals ranked highest overall against the council’s scoring criteria, which examined each bidder’s relevant experience and ability to meet the council’s key objectives for the site.

Why the council is considering leasing Whitewebbs Park Golf Course

Since 2014/15 the council worked to increase revenue and reduce expenditure at Whitewebbs Park, including the golf course. This has included improving the online profile and accessibility for the course, as well as running more marketing campaigns for the golf course.

However, despite this the golf course operated at a loss for several years. Enfield and the surrounding area is well served by golf courses, so as well as inviting proposals from experienced golf course operators, it was appropriate to also consider other leisure uses.

Why the park woodland was included in the marketing

The council gave bidders the opportunity to include some or all the land adjacent to the golf course, including the woodland, as part of their bids. The inclusion of the entire site was to maximise interest from a wide variety of leisure providers.

If a lease was agreed which included the woodland, this would only have been considered if the use was appropriate, enhanced public access, and ensured the maintenance of the woodland and public rights of way and bridleways.

Any future uses would need to comply with planning, including compliance with all requirements of its ancient woodland status.

Bidders were not required to include the entire park within their bids.

The marketing of Whitewebbs Park Golf Course

Between August and October 2019, Enfield Council carried out a marketing exercise of Whitewebbs Park Golf Course. During this time, experienced leisure providers were invited to submit expressions of interest for the future management of Whitewebbs Park Golf Course and adjacent land, including woodland.

The council's aim of leasing Whitewebbs Park Golf Course is for the park to be rejuvenated and to be used in a way that benefits the wider local community.

Before the marketing was launched, we engaged directly with stakeholders of the park who helped us develop the stated ambitions and the scoring criteria for the bid assessment. Stakeholders also suggested ideas for future leisure uses for the park, which were included within the marketing documents.

Requirements of bidders

Bidders for the lease were required to demonstrate a wide and inclusive benefit to the community, which were in line with planning policies and met with the council's criteria. The criteria included:

  • retention or enhancement of public access
  • maintenance of woodland and open areas
  • provision of a range of activities
  • provision of refreshments and welfare facilities
  • community engagement

Response from bidders

The council received eighteen expressions of interest. These proposed a wide variety of sport, leisure and environmentally sustainable uses of the park, including golf, rewilding and woodland pursuits.

None of the proposals involved clearing the site to create a landfill or building houses.

Review by the council

The submitted expressions of interest were reviewed and the council took advice from independent planning specialists for each proposed use. This advice, along with community and stakeholder feedback, influenced how the council approached the second stage of marketing.

Also, in response to feedback from residents and stakeholders, the requirements were strengthened to ensure public access and facilities will be enhanced, and the valued green space and woodland at Whitewebbs will be fully protected via both the bid evaluation and planning process.

Any uses that didn't meet these criteria would not be considered.

The second stage of the marketing process

On 19 December 2019, the council began the second stage of the marketing of Whitewebbs. We went back to all those who submitted an expression of interest with enhanced criteria and a mandatory requirement to undergo a planning pre-application submission. This gave them a chance to provide more detailed final submissions to the council.

Bidders were required to make their final submissions by 2 March 2020. All submissions that met the council's requirements would be assessed and scored, based on a published scoring matrix.

Enhanced requirements of bidders

We specified that:

  • all bidders must obtain pre-planning application advice from the council's Planning team, for their proposed future use of the park. Without this advice, bids will not be considered.
  • for bids involving any landscaping within the park, bidders must clearly show that their business plan is not based on soil importation
  • all bids are required to consist of outdoor based leisure activities. Non-leisure proposals will not be considered.

Bidders were required to show a wide and inclusive benefit to the local community, in line with planning policies and the Council Plan. The council's criteria were also amended from the first phase to take into account public feedback, now requiring bids to demonstrate:

  • enhancement of public access - the council is seeking a proposal that will enhance the existing level of public access and maintain all current public rights of way going forward
  • retention and maintenance of woodland and open areas - the property provides an important habitat and open space for wildlife and local residents. Applicants must explain how these areas will be enhanced and managed in their proposals, detailing clearly where there will be improvements.
  • a more inclusive range of activities - the acceptable proposed use must be outdoor leisure or sport led. Proposals with no element of outdoor leisure use will not be considered.
  • better provision of refreshments and welfare facilities - all submissions must include provision of refreshments and welfare facilities to all users of the park, not just users of the proposal
  • ongoing community engagement - all bids should detail how the tenant proposes to engage with the community and stakeholders. The applicant was required to provide a comprehensive communication plan which, as a minimum, should include details of using social media and a website to provide details of their plans for Whitewebbs and provide updates. The new tenant will be required to provide digital and traditional platforms for engagement with the local community that allows for feedback.

Assessment of submissions

Six bids were received by 2 March and were evaluated and scored by a panel of council officers, representing planning, property, commercial, parks, leisure and finance, with legal represented in an advisory capacity. This was to make sure of a balanced and fully informed evaluation outcome.

65% of the score related to the bid meeting the criteria, the relevant experience of the bidders and the viability of the proposal. Only 35% of the score related to the rent or premium offered.

It was intended to confirm a preferred bidder or bidders by April 2020, but shortly after the evaluation we were of course affected by the global pandemic and the priorities of the council and bidders changed.

One of the bids was subsequently withdrawn.

Highest scoring bidder

As we now move towards a wider lifting of restrictions, the process has recommenced, and we are now releasing details of the evaluation process.

The following press release was issued on 8 June 2021.

Whitewebbs Golf Course: Enfield Council considering proposals for investment in sport and rewilding at Whitewebbs

Enfield Council has today announced it is considering proposals which would see long-term investments in sport and rewilding at Whitewebbs.

The proposals have been submitted by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in response to a call from the council for experienced sports and leisure operators to suggest proposals for the site.

Using the rental income received, Enfield Council will reinvest an additional £100,000 a year into grassroots sport for young people across the borough.

If the council agrees to the club’s proposals it would see:

  • Restoration of the southern half of the former golf course to parkland and wild meadows 
  • Retention of the woodlands by Enfield Council with investment in improving biodiversity and improved paths for walking, cycling and horse riding
  • Investment to reinstate 19th century parkland with a new café, toilets and other facilities
  • The creation of a new Women’s and Girls’ Football Academy to develop the game at grassroots level
  • Opportunities for community and educational activities
  • A Sports Turf Academy providing employment and training opportunities for a new generation of sports turf, greenkeeping, horticultural and mechanical staff
  • Enfield Council will invest an extra £100,000 a year into grassroots sport for young people across the borough

The club’s proposals ranked highest overall against the Council’s scoring criteria, which examined each bidder’s relevant experience and ability to meet the council’s key objectives for the site.

Those objectives take account of both local community aspirations and the need to find a sustainable and viable future for the site. They comprise the requirement to:

  • retain or enhance public access
  • maintain woodland and open areas
  • provide a range of leisure and/or sports activities
  • provide refreshment and welfare facilities for all users of the park
  • deliver a comprehensive programme of community engagement

If the proposals are agreed, Whitewebbs Wood and the area to the south of the wood will not be included in the area leased to the club and these will continue to be managed by the Council.  The Council is looking at proposals to enhance access to these areas whilst improving biodiversity.

Further details of the proposals are available on the Club’s website at Tottenham Hotspur/Whitewebbs.  

Further details of the marketing of Whitewebbs Golf Course can be found on our website

A decision on whether to proceed with the proposals will be made in mid-July.

The proposals would then form a planning application which will be submitted to the council for consideration in forthcoming months and be subject to further engagement and statutory consultation.

No lease would be entered into unless and until planning consent is granted.

The Leader of Enfield Council, Cllr Nesil Caliskan, said: “Whitewebbs Golf Course has made a significant financial loss over the last five years and it would be irresponsible of the Council to subsidise this venture. 

“If these proposals are approved we will use the rental income to reinvest an extra £100,000 a year into grassroots sport for young people across the borough.

“Residents have consistently told us that any proposal for the future of Whitewebbs needs to ensure the public continue to have access to this beautiful area.

“We were clear from the start that any partner we select for this scheme must put the community at the heart of their vision and I am pleased to see that the bid from Tottenham Hotspur does precisely that.

“I am also pleased that other bids that included soil importation have not scored highly and have therefore been ruled out.

“Any proposal will require planning consent and no lease will be entered into unless planning consent is granted following the statutory consultation.”

Notes to Editors

About the marketing of Whitewebbs

The council is offering a 25 year lease with no automatic right to a new lease. The council would retain the freehold and at the end of the lease the council gets control of the land and buildings included in the lease.

Enfield Council commenced the marketing of Whitewebbs in 2019.

The process was halted in March 2020 as the council’s focus has been on supporting residents and businesses through the pandemic.

As we now move towards a wider lifting of restrictions, the process has recommenced, and we are now releasing details of the bids.

Six bids were received and have been evaluated against a published set of criteria.

One bid was subsequently withdrawn due to the financial impact of the pandemic.

Details of the remaining four, lower scoring, bids will be published on the council’s website.

In order to comply with the council’s Property Procedure Rules the council can only decide whether to proceed with the highest scoring bid or not to proceed with any of the bids.

It cannot decide to proceed with a lower scoring bid. The intention is for the council to take an initial key decision in mid-July that will enable the council to enter into an agreement with Spurs which is conditional planning consent being granted at a later date, following a statutory consultation.

All the works within the leased area including the academy, café and toilets and new parkland will be paid for by Spurs in their proposal.

About women’s and girl’s football

Women’s football is believed to be the fastest growing sport in the world.

Over 1.12 billion viewers watched the Women’s World Cup in 2019 and with the success of the Women’s Super League now attracting live coverage on the BBC and Sky, interest is expected to continue grow.

The FA reports that grass roots participation in the sport in England doubled between 2017 and 2020 with up to 3.4 million women and girls now playing regularly.

Bidders criteria

Before launching the second stage of marketing the requirements for bidders were enhanced.

Five qualifying requirements were detailed to bidders, and bidders were advised that any bids that didn't meet with all these requirements would not be considered. The five qualifying requirements were:

  • Lease term of 25 years, to be contracted out of Sections 24-28 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
  • The acceptable proposed use must, be outdoor leisure or sport led. Proposals with no element of leisure use will not be considered.
  • All bidders had to submit a pre-application planning advice request by 27 January 2020 and the outcome of the pre-app advice will form a key part of the evaluation
  • Any bids that include imported material for landscaping will be required to demonstrate that the importation is essential for a viable leisure/sport led business following completion of the importation
  • The preferred bidder(s) will be required to engage with the public once selected and bids must provide a comprehensive communication plan

Bid evaluation criteria

All qualifying bids were evaluated by a panel of appropriately qualified council officers, using a predetermined scoring matrix. The scoring matrix sets out the five following scoring categories and the weightings each category is given to the overall evaluation score:

  1. Meeting the council's objectives - 30%
  2. Pre-application planning advice - 10%
  3. The applicant's experience in comparable leisure uses - 10%
  4. The applicant's financial standing and business plan - 15%
  5. Rent/premium offered - 35%

Stakeholder engagement

The following stakeholders were engaged prior to the marketing exercise and their views considered in developing the criteria and marketing materials:

  • The Friends of Whitewebbs Park
  • The Friends of Hilly Fields
  • The Greenbelt Forum
  • Whitewebbs Golf Club
  • Whitewebbs Golf Club Users
  • Ward councillors

We have committed to engaging more widely with stakeholder groups before a lease is entered in to and further stakeholders have been added to the list, including:

  • Woodland Trust
  • Enfield Scouts
  • Butterfly Conservation Hertfordshire and Middlesex
  • Enfield Age UK
  • North London and South Herts Ramblers Association
  • Enfield Sport
  • Enfield Cycle Campaign
  • NW London RSPB
  • Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
  • Edmonton Running Club
Scoring matrix
Bidder

Leisure experience (10%)

(Weighted score)

Financial offer (35%)

(Weighted score)

Business plan and financial standing (15%)

(Weighted score)

Planning advice (10%)

(Weighted score)

Meeting council objectives (30%)

(Weighted score)

Total Rank
Bidder A
7.5
0
7.5
10
22.5
47.5
3=
Bidder B
2.5
17.5
7.5
5
15
47.5
3=
Bidder C
2.5
35
3.75
2.5
7.5
51.25
2
Tottenham Hotspur
10
14
11.25
7.5
22.5
65.25
1
Bidder E
2.5
16.8
3.75
2.5
7.5
33.05
5

Lower scoring bids

Bidder A

  • Bid for the entire site
  • Proposed use for educational facilities along with rewilding of areas of the site, livestock grazing, and community uses including walking trails, cycle ways and improved bridle paths
  • Offered no rent

Bidder B

  • Bid for the entire site
  • Proposed a family activity park and golf world leisure facility with a mix of activities including community open space.
  • Proposed activities included a Fishing Lake, Adventure Golf, Drone Zone, Paintball, Braille Trail and sensory centre, Dog Agility enclosure, Petting Farm, Green Gym and mountain bike trails.
  • Proposals relied on soil importation
  • Operators for leisure activities not identified
  • Offered high rent

Bidder C

  • Bid for the entire site
  • Proposed a redesigned golf course, a large-scale modern driving range with large food & beverage offering, adventure golf course, event venue and outdoor activity centre.
  • Proposals relied on soil importation as part of the development.
  • Offered highest rent
  • Scored joint lowest on pre-application planning advice

Bidder E

  • Bid for the entire site
  • Proposed a large events venue, a reconfigured 9-hole golf course and creation of a community park
  • Bidders had no experience of developing or running golf courses or large events venues
  • Scored lowest on business plan and financial standing
  • Scored joint lowest on pre-application planning advice