Saracens chairman Nigel Wray has promised Copthall will be a “genuine community stadium” after Barnet Council approved plans for the Premiership rugby club to develop the grounds last night.

The Sixties stadium is situated on 10.5 hectares of land and will be used for up to 16 Saracens home matches a year.

But the club has pledged the ground will remain open to community use on none match days, providing access to an indoor athletics track and an artificial turf pitch.

Mr Wray said: “After 18 months of engaging extensively with local residents, we are delighted that Barnet councillors have approved our proposals to revive Barnet Copthall Stadium and create a vibrant sports hub for the local community.

“The new stadium will provide both a real home for Saracens and a hugely improved venue for athletics in the south east.

“Copthall will, we promise, be a genuine community stadium.

“We will continue to work closely with the local community and make Copthall an asset that we can all be proud of.”

As well as providing a home for Saracens, the grounds will be used by sports clubs such as Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers (SBH) and its facilities will be offered to schools free of charge.

Olympic hopeful and SBH coach, Larry Achike, said: “I feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Barnet desperately needs this facility and I’m so excited for everyone who can use it and the local community.”

Nadeem Shaikh, vice president of SBH added: “This is an absolutely fantastic result – I’m so pleased for the community and so very happy the right decision has been made.”

Councillors John Hart and Sury Khatri were also delighted the plans were unanimously given the green light. Speaking after last night's planning and environment committee, Cllr Hart said: “I’m ecstatic. It’s absolutely marvellous and an amazing investment for Barnet.”