Whitewebbs Park andGolf Course – Future use

Proposals for changes to Whitewebbs Park



Whitewebbs Park and Golf Course – Future use

These are personal concerns over the apparent  proposals for the future of Whitewebbs Park and Golf Course.I am one of many daily users of the park who want Whitewebbs to continue and enhance its contribution to the health, welfare and enjoyment of the people of Enfield.


Following the publication of the “Whitewebbs Park and Golf Course – Future use” poster as well as the prospectus produced by  Knight Frank “Whitewebbs Park Golf Course and adjacent land …… To Let: a commercial development opportunity” There is a link to the text of the  prospectus at the end of these comments.

I have the following concerns:

  1. The totally inadequate publicity provided by LBE for this project.
  2. The privatisation of a public park.
  3. The financial basis of this proposal.
  4. The environmental impact of this proposal should a commercial lease be granted.
  5. The apparent lack of awareness by the proposers of this initiative that Hilly Fields, Whitewebbs and Forty Hall form an arc of the Green Belt offering an integrated and complimentary mix of environments that are not used as isolated units by the people of Enfield.
  6. Alternate proposals.


  1. The publicity. The proposal was announced in Whitewebbs Park by the tying of one A4 poster  to the dilapidated notice board at the far end of the carpark at Beggars Lane.  Some appeared in Hilly Fields. I know of at least six gated entrances to the park used by visitors.  The friends of Whitewebbs were able to post more copies. The one poster  that LBE put  up disappeared and after a week or two was replaced by two A3 posters in the same place.
    There has been no publicity in the local press and nothing on the LBE website, including the newsletter.
  2. Privatisation of a public park. I can understand that privatisation by lease can be an appropriate answer for some facilities in the borough – leisure centres, sports grounds, catering establishments.  The Trent Park Golf Course seems to have been successful but it has a better location (opposite a tube station) and greater potential for development than Whitewebbs (one bus an hour  except Sundays). It is not far from Whitewebbs, in a part of Greater London that is well (over?) endowed with golf courses. It would seem unwise to set Whitewebbs up in direct competition to  Trent Park.
    I don’t know of any privatised public parks in London. I certainly can’t think of any  general municipal park that are expected to run at a profit.  Trent Park  and the Enfield Playing Fields on the A10 can host large events but they are exceptional, not to say controversial.
    Whitewebbs Park is an area of fairly dense woodland with narrow paths maintained by the action of walkers walking along them. There has been no real expenditure on the park in the last ten years, if not longer. It has been left to Nature to do its stuff and this provides  a pleasant contrast to the more formal layouts in Forty Hall and Hilly Fields. Maintenance seems to consist of emptying the rubbish bins.  The Friends of the Park have arranged with the council recently for three more bins and for the resumption  of strimming alongside  some of the paths. Any other maintenance projects  have been done by volunteer groups such as CSV.
    I understand that  the costs of running each park are unavailable.  It would be interesting to know what the income from the Toby Carvery is and how this is set against park running costs. I note also that the  South Lodge in Beggars Lane was sold for £471,500 in 2011 and wonder how much of this was invested in improvements for Whitewebbs Park.
  3. The financial basis of this proposal.
The Golf Course – there is plenty of golfing provision in the area at a time when  the number of golfers is declining. Whitewebbs  serves a  particular niche in the market and to judge by the figures in  the Knight Frank prospectus is not doing too badly given that it does not have the facility to  supplement the income from fees  with bar and banqueting facility income. The course is clearly making an effort to improve the situation with an updated website and package deals with the Toby Carvery. If an investor could be found to sink the vast sums needed  to rebuild the course and provide the facilities that would allow it to compete with surrounding golf clubs in a declining market I and  commercial experts I have consulted would be very surprised.
Frank Knight included this statement in the prospectus:

Allegedly this is how some municipal golf courses have made a very large short term profit for lessees.  200,000 cubic metres of inert material (non toxic excavated waste from building projects) represents  about 350,000 tonnes. This requires  about 17,500 20 tonne 8 wheel tipper trucks to carry it. Contractors will pay a lot of money to dump waste and while this  might give a lessee a short term profit it does not necessarily lead to a long term financially secure basis for the golf club, particularly with a relatively short 25 year lease.

Would 17,500 20 tonne lorry journeys (35,000 including the return journey) along Whitewebbs Lane  or Clay Hill be acceptable in these environmentally conscious days. Who is going to check that each of these 17,500 loads contains inert (non toxic) material?

The Park – I am not aware of any park in Enfield that is expected to make a profit, or even cover its costs. Whitewebbs Park (not the golf course) is a unique part of Enfield’s green belt. Short of charging people for walking and for feeding the ducks the only way  to raise more income is to make certain facilities more attractive to the existing user base of  walkers  and runners. At present the café is not a place one would make a special effort to go to. The lessee has been highly restricted by council planning rules on the size and type of unit. According to the Knight Frank the income for the council is low.  There is hardly any shelter in poorer weather and there are no facilities  for families. It is essentially a tea/coffee bar with burgers and  a fryup menu. It is good to have something there  but it is not somewhere  one would make a special journey for.  It could be so much better – for golfers half way round the course, for muddy footed ramblers  travelling round the Loop,  dog walkers (of whom there are many), families who want to take their children  out for a day in the open and horse riders  using the bridleway. There are many examples of excellent park cafes all over London.

A decent café with a dedicated and  entrepreneurial owner would generate income for the Park and enhance the experience of visitors. The lease would have to be of a decent length if the  lessee is to  cover investment costs. Planning constrictions have held back  such a development for years.

The woodland  is unmanaged, with a wide variety of fauna and flora. The park has not had any real investment, one could almost say it has  suffered / benefitted from benign neglect. To have it compete with other parks and facilities  for users would be counterproductive. Its strengths are  its peaceful atmosphere, its wildlife, its unkempt but beautiful woodland. Encourage people to use it  by providing  better basic facilities – an all weather café, play facilities, information about the fauna and flora, signposted walks, welfare facilities for wet and muddy walkers and runners. More intensive use could easily destroy the  character and environmental quality of the park.  Most of the woodland paths are narrow. Encouraging, for example, mountain biking  in the woodland would produce conflict with existing users and deter them  from using the park, thereby reducing overall numbers.

It might be worth asking “How much does it cost to run Whitewebbs Park and set that against the healthy lifestyle and well being that it creates.”  Apart from refuse collection  and the recently reintroduced  path strimming very little is actually spent on this park. A lot of the maintenance work is done by volunteer groups. This semi privatisation of a public park has little or nothing to commend it.

  1. The environmental impact of this proposal should a commercial lease be granted.
    The golf course is an attractive place for wildlife, there are some beautiful  and unusual trees there. It is a mature course and blends in with the landscape.  The process described in  3 above  could do a huge amount of damage, not just to the  Golf Course. A commercial operator would be under great pressure  to make money – redeveloping the land for housing  and the “landscaping” of landfill are the only real possibilities.  Competing with existing golf facilities in the region in a declining market makes no commercial sense. The ground staff do an excellent job but there is a need, I’m told, for some investment to maintain the standards of the
    There is the added risk that a commercial developer might be tempted to nibble away at the park.
    The costs of running the Park (as opposed to the Golf Course) are minimal. There is very little open space. That which is there is naturally regenerating as woodland and in winter  a significant part is waterlogged and in summer  the dried out clay is riven by fissures.
  2. Whitewebbs as part of the Green Belt. Instead of looking at Whitewebbs in isolation we should be looking at it as part of the Forty Hall, Whitewebbs , Hilly Fields arc of open space. Walkers and runners use the network of paths that connect all three areas. It is possible to do a huge variety of walks using different path combinations – short walks, easy walks, hillier walks, woodland walks, farmland walks, historical walks.  Admittedly there is great difficulty for wheelchair users to move between Forty Hall and Whitwebbs but this should be addressed. There are much longer walks that include  the three parks on the way from Gordon Hill to Cheshunt. It is  surprising that there is no mention of the Bridleway in  the Frank Knight prospectus – it occupies 4000m and is 2 – 3 metres wide.

    This extract from Enfield Council’s   “ Enfield’s Local Plan Detailed Green Belt Boundary Review March 2013 EVIDENCE BASE” recognises the importance of the Whitewebbs area to the Green Belt

    4.3 (2) Rural Parklands Within Enfield’s Green Belt two key areas have been characterised as rural parkland, Enfield Chase in the north‐west and the large area of recreation land in the north‐east comprising Whitewebbs Park, Forty Hall parklands, and the parklands surrounding Myddleton House.   This Green Belt typology offers landscapes with strong national heritage and a focus on recreation. Within the wider environment these historic landscapes are generally widely visible forming large woodland areas which are prominent from the north and south.

    See   Housing on the Green Belt  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/green-belt-land-protected-housing-crisis-development-report-london-a8749366.html

    Also see this Press release issued by the London Green Belt Council on 1st July 2019:      https://enfieldsociety.org.uk/2019/07/13/local-authorities-are-urged-to-protect-green-spaces-to-mitigate-climate-change/
  3. Alternate proposals.
    Look at the whole picture – Whitewebbs Park and the Golf Course are part of the lungs of Enfield. The health and environmental benefits for the citizens of Enfield and North London far outweigh the minimal costs of maintaining the parks. Enfield does need to be more commercially minded about the provision of appropriate services on the Whitwebbs site. In so doing it could generate a much higher income and greater user satisfaction.
    If the Council feels that it cannot manage Whitewebbs successfully then ask Capel Manor to take over. It is a college that offers land management in its course list and it has  the infrastructure  to cope with  issues such as employment, health and safety and human resources.
    b. Unless the Council is planning to allow housing development on the site of the park / golf course  or allow massive landfill and “landscaping” it should accept that  the parks are not going to generate significant income.
  4. Base development of Beggars Hollow on the existing pattern of use, enhancing the provision so as to attract greater use. The key element is to provide catering facilities that will meet the year round needs of existing and prospective users. Enhancements could take the form of, for example, a safe play area for children; warm and dry shelter for golfers,. and walkers, dog walkers, runners; hitching rail for horses; better disabled access; opening hours that will attract a wider clientele (the café  was busy at 8.00 a.m. under previous lessees)  A successful and attractive café  would provide employment, generate income for the Council and attract more users to the park and the golf course. It might be possible to attract small businesses to the site – dog washing and grooming for example.



Link to prospectus text: