Plans to turn Watling Boys' Club, Burnt Oak, into flats

The derelict boys' club

The derelict boys' club

First published in News
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Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Plans to turn a derelict boys’ club into a block of flats will be decided at a meeting tonight - two years after a campaign to try to reopen it as a community centre.

The former Watling Boys’ Club, in Dryfield Road, Burnt Oak, could be turned into new houses if Barnet Borough Council’s planning officers approve plans at Hendon Town Hall, in The Burroughs, tonight.

Planning officers have recommended approving the proposals, which include two three-storey blocks and two two-storey blocks with 22 flats, and two houses.

But work will not begin until a parking management plan has been drafted, to ensure there is enough space to accommodate residents and visitors.

Despite a petition backed by Hendon MP Matthew Offord to reopen it as a community centre, the building was sold off to Greencourt Property Group in 2011.

At the time, a bidder who wanted to keep the building for community use was rejected because they wanted a “substantial” council grant to help transform the dilapidated building.

Councillor Hugh Rayner, representative for Hale ward, said: “If a viable proposal was put forward, then community use is obviously the preferred solution.

“But in the absence of that, leaving the building as an eyesore is not an option.

“I have always been worried about having a large derelict site in the middle of a residenital area. If we can get closure on that, it is excellent.

“Overall, turning the building into houses would be a positive thing - it is a derelict site and not conducive with a residential area.”

The club was opened in the 1960s and provided a range of activities for youngsters, including boxing and sport on a football pitch behind it.

However, it closed down in the late 1990s and has suffered from fires and vandalism and become overgrown.

Cllr Rayner added: “As long as the environment is respected then I am happy. There is the question of various protected species being under the site, so hopefully any demolition and redevelopment would take into account these green aspects.”

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