Enfield Council’s decision to lease part of Whitewebbs Park to Tottenham Hotspur is set to be challenged in the High Court.

A judge has granted permission for a judicial review of the authority’s decision to award the 25-year lease to the Premier League football club, which wants to set up a new women’s football academy on the site of the park’s former golf course in northern Enfield.

A hearing is expected to take place early next year, where parties will present evidence before a judge who will then rule on whether or not the council acted lawfully.

Friends of Whitewebbs Park chair Sean Wilkinson, who is mounting the legal challenge as a local resident, said getting the green light for the judicial review represented a “major advance” for the campaign against the council’s decision.

He added: “I am delighted, and the supporters of the campaign are absolutely delighted.”

The council agreed in October 2021 to hand a 25-year lease to Spurs if its proposals for the parkland win planning permission. It sparked a backlash from local residents, with multiple protests being staged.

The football club wants to create new training pitches in the north-eastern corner of the site close to its existing training complex in Whitewebbs Lane. The lease also includes land to the south of this, where Tottenham Hotspur plans to restore “areas of historic parkland”.

Earlier this year, campaigners from Enfield RoadWatch and the Friends of Whitewebbs, together with the London branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, revealed plans to take the council to court over its decision.

In a letter to the council, they claimed proposed restrictions on public use and access “inherent” in Spurs’ training academy plans would go against legislation under which the land is held in trust for the public’s use.

They also stated that plans to use rental income from the site to invest an extra £100,000 per year in grassroots sport would be an “unlawful use of profits from public trust land”, as the money would be spent outside the park.

Granting permission for the judicial review request brought by Sean Wilkinson, a judge said the claimant had “raised arguable grounds which merit consideration at a full hearing”.

Sean said that once a date for the judicial review hearing had been set, campaigners would start fundraising to cover the costs.

Last week, Spurs revealed the first details of its plans for Whitewebbs Park, including proposals to erect a fence nearly two metres tall surrounding the proposed football academy, which will occupy 18% of the overall park.

There are also plans to remove 102 trees and plant 3,000 new ones, create a biodiversity corridor, upgrade footpaths and bridleways, and transform run-down Conduit House into a birdwatching platform.

The club is now holding a series of consultation events to allow people to view and discuss the plans, although this has been branded as “no more than a PR exercise” by the Friends of Whitewebbs.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “The lease of part of Whitewebbs Park is set to bring significant benefits to the local community including the protection and enhancement of the park and woods, further investment in a new on-site café, toilets and other facilities, as well as preserving open public access to over 80% of the park for all residents.

“A claim for judicial review has been submitted and the court has granted permission for the claim to be heard in due course. Enfield Council is confident that proper legal processes and procedures have been followed at all times leading up to the award of this lease and will defend the judicial review robustly.”

Tottenham Hotspur FC declined to comment.