1. The council wants to lease out the Whitewebbs Golf Course And the 138 acres of mature woodland to a private commercial operator for 25 years.
2. The woodland is a unique and precious patch of ancient natural woodland in Enfield – a home to many varieties of plants and wildlife
3. There is no commitment to keeping the public golf course.
4. Losses on the golf course are relatively small. It is believed that it is covering its costs this year. Most golf courses benefit from function room hire, meals and bar sales. This is not the case for Whitewebbs.
5. There is no evidence of when the decision was made to include the woodland in the proposal. As late as July only the golf course was mentioned in council documents.
6. The Council has done virtually nothing to inform park users and the local community about the proposals. One A4 poster in Whitewebbs, later increased to 2x A3 posters in the same place.
7. The business advertisements refer to a 103 acre golf course and “adjacent land”. “Adjacent land” is the larger ancient woodland area of mature oaks and hornbeam trees.
8. The woodland is described as a site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation (Enfield local plan policies map) and Ancient and semi mature woodland (Forestry Commission)
9. The business advertisements for the golf course suggest that it could be used for dumping 150,000 to 200,000 cubic metres of inert material for “landscaping” purposes.
10. 200,000 cubic metres of material is approximately 17,500 20 tonne lorry loads on roads such as Clay Hill and Whitewebbs Lane + the return journeys. The Council supports the Climate Emergency action!
11. The original adverts said “inert material” which is building waste. This was a “mistake” and has been changed to “soil”. There are many definitions of soil. see https://www.socotec.co.uk/news/faqs/faqs-soil-waste-classification/ and https://www.gea-ltd.co.uk/blog/detail/new-guidance-on-classification-of-waste-soil-from-construction.html
12. Using golf courses for dumping waste material raises a lot of money for the leaseholder. (£millions !)
13. Who is going to check each lorry load for illegal material – Asbestos, Chemical spills and other hazardous material?
14. The Council says that the lease will protect existing access, the environment and usage but gives no details of what this will mean in practice. There is no guarantee as to the amount of car parking (essential for access) or as to the cost (currently free).
15. Bids will be assessed on a scoring basis but we have not seen details of this.
16. How can we monitor that the terms of the lease are being met if we don’t know what they are? The users of the park are the community not the senior officers and the councillors, with one or two exceptions.
17. Lease terms and public monitoring are important – there will be many changes in council members and officers long before the lease is even a quarter of the way through its term.
18. A 25 year lease for a golf course, especially one in need of development (very costly), is very short. Commercial companies will want to adopt short term measures to raise income, not long term investment. (see 8 – 12 above).
19. A 25 year lease for mature woodland is ridiculously short – the Council wants maintenance and improvement with increased access. Harvesting 200 year old oak trees? Go Ape when there is already one 3 miles away? Parking charges and fines? Action activities that will restrict, endanger and drive away existing users?
20. Increased access = more traffic and land for parking. There is one bus an hour except on Sundays.
21. From October to March the woodland is muddy, wet, waterlogged in places, suitable only for walking boots, wellies and the hardy. Pathways through the woods are fragile and damaged by heavy use. There will be no obligation on the developer to improve access.
22. The Council has done virtually no maintenance in the park for years – benign neglect has protected the woodland environment (CSV has done a lot of the work on a volunteer basis).
23. There is a small café in Beggars Hollow. It may not be the greatest cafe (lease restrictions) but it is an important community resource for its many users – walkers, golfers, riders, dog walkers and visitors.
24. Properly resourced with a long lease it could be a major generator of income and community hub. With a 25 year lease an enterprising person would invest in facilities that would attract many more customers.
25. A busy and profitable café would pay a rent that could cover golf course losses and contribute towards park improvement.
26. What will be the position on 1 st April 2020? Café or building site, golf course or hundreds of dumper lorries, restricted access to woodland?
Time is very short (end of October): contact your ward councillor, twitter, facebook, newspapers, friends, neighbours to make your view known.